Fench Alps shooting: Massacre like a film, says witness
A WALKER has described his horror on arrival at the remote spot where a British man was murdered alongside his wife and mother-in-law in a shooting spree in the French Alps.
The man, named only as Philippe D, 41, recalled he was unable to rouse seven-year-old Zainab al-Hilli who survived the ordeal, believing she was dead as she lay on the ground close to the family car.
He said the carnage in front of him resembled a scene from a film and he described an eerie silence in the secluded car park where four people were shot dead.
The witness told Le Parisien newspaper that he set out with two friends last Wednesday afternoon to go walking.
As they drove up a hill in the Combe d’Ire forest, near Chevaline, they were met by a “panic-stricken” British cyclist making his way down from the murder scene. He recalled that the cyclist, a former member of the RAF, tried to explain in bad French what lay up ahead and wanted to call for help.
Mr D continued up the hill to the car park where he saw the bodies of Saad al-Hilli, 50, his dentist wife Iqbal and Mrs al-Hilli’s mother in their bullet-ridden BMW.
A fourth body, that of Sylvain Mollier, 45, a French cyclist who apparently stumbled across the attack, lay on the ground. Zainab was lying by the car.
“I immediately understood,” he said. “I approached the car. I did not touch anything but I saw that there was nothing that could be done. There was no sign of life.”
He then turned his attention to Zainab. He said: “She did not respond when we addressed her. I clapped my hands but she did not react. I even spoke a few words of English because I saw that the car had a British number plate but nothing happened.
“As far as I could tell, she was dead.”
Mr D said he called the emergency services who arrived at about 4pm.
The experienced walker, who set out that day with two female friends, said the group feared for their own safety, wondering if an assailant was still in the area.
They believe they could have been killed if they had reached the spot, close to Lake Annecy, a few minutes earlier.
“There wasn’t a single sound,” the walker added.
“It was like in a film. One of those television series where everything begins with a murder, only this time we were the actors and we did not have the remote control to change the channel.”
He said the group saw no-one as they drove up through the forest and that the killer or killers could have escaped using a winding lane which leads directly to the motorway.
The walker spoke as it emerged the al-Hilli family moved from one campsite to another two days before they were gunned down.
A Dutch couple believed the group planned to spend a week at the Village Camping Europa site in St Jorioz after they arrived last Saturday, but they left on Monday. The campers said Mr al-Hilli acted strangely during that time, leaving his family alone several times each day. They also noticed an unusual man wearing a smart jacket visiting while the al-Hillis were there.
Staff at Village Camping Europa described the family as “very quiet, nice people”.
A manager, who refused to give her name, said: “They came to stay with us on Saturday evening and left on Monday.
“That was pre-planned – they were here for just a few days.”
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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