French Alps murders: Uncle's concerns over police probe

Saad al-Hilli Saad al-Hilli was found dead in his car in France along with two family members

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The uncle of a woman shot dead with her family in the Alps last month has expressed his concerns about the French police's murder investigation.

Saad al-Hilli, 50, was shot with his wife Iqbal, 47, his mother-in-law and a cyclist near Annecy.

Dr Ahmed al-Saffar says the focus has been on the family while other lines of investigation had been dismissed.

The family, from Surrey, were on a camping holiday on the shores of Lake Annecy when they were killed.

Their daughters Zainab, seven, and Zeena, four, survived.

Zainab was shot and sustained head injuries while her sister Zeena hid under the skirts of her mother and grandmother.

Dr Al-Saffar told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think the French prosecutor also focused on the family without presenting any evidence. It's kind of wild speculation."

He said his niece was a ''very lovely girl" who was "devoted to her family", and described her and her husband as a perfect couple.

He also said he cannot think why they were targeted, adding their daughters have been told what happened to their parents.

Dr Al-Saffar went on to say he found out about the murders when he opened his laptop "and saw some news which matches the people we know... it was devastating news".

Speaking of the extended family, he said that ''even now we can't come to terms or comprehend'' what had happened. "All [family] members are devastated by the news", he said, describing his relatives as having suffered the ''savagery of murder beyond imagination''.

Having the murderer brought to court and justice as soon as possible this will bring ''us a kind of comfort'', he said.

Provisional scenario

French and British police have formed a joint task force to investigate Mr Hilli's work as an engineer, his family connections and links to Iraq, where he was born.

The investigative team comprises the Surrey force, French police and French magistrates.

Dr Al-Saffar said the family have ''meetings now and then'' with the police but have not received many details as yet.

Last week a leaked police report of a provisional scenario suggested the cyclist also found dead at the scene, Sylvain Mollier, was shot first.

The killer then shot Saad al-Hilli, his wife and mother-in-law while they sat in their car.

It remains unclear whether the Hilli family were the intended targets.

The French prosecutor Eric Maillaud said early on in the investigation that Mr Mollier, who lived near the site of the shootings, was an innocent bystander in "the wrong place at the wrong time".

But local police later said they were open to the theory the 45-year-old father of three had been the target of the killer, though they provided no evidence to support this.

Speaking earlier this month, Mr Maillaud warned there was no hope of solving the murders "in the near future".

"There are lines of inquiry but each raises so many questions and nothing suggests there will be a quick solution," he said.

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