Alps attack victim comes out of coma

Sun, Sep 9, 2012, 01:00

The seven-year-old British girl who survived a gun attack in the French Alps last week that saw her father and mother shot dead in their car is out of a coma and will be questioned by police as soon as she is able, the French prosecutor said today.

French and British police continued their search of the family house today of Saad al-Hilli, the Iraqi-born British driver who was shot twice in the head along with his wife.

An older Swedish woman travelling in the car also died in the shooting, along with Sylvain Mollier (45) a French cyclist who apparently stumbled across the attack in Chevaline.

"She (Zainab) has come out of her artificial coma and she is now sedated," state prosecutor Eric Maillaud said.

He said an uncle and aunt of Zainab, who had suffered serious skull fractures in the attack, were by her side at the hospital in Grenoble.

Mr Maillaud said her youngest sister, four-year-old Zeena, who survived unscathed after the shootings on a remote forest road near the village of Chevaline, had now returned to Britain.

Police hope Zainab will eventually provide more information on the shootings.

Mr Maillaud said a family feud over money was one of several motives still being considered for the murders and Hilli's brother had been formally questioned.

The brother has denied any dispute with Mr Hilli, who lived in Surrey, south of London.

Officers began a detailed search of the family’s mock Tudor property yesterday as they seek to establish a motive for the murders that saw each of the four victims shot twice in the head.

Scenes of crimes officers returned to the detached house in Claygate, Surrey, at 7am this morning. Two Surrey police officers carrying Tasers and side firearms spent around 10 minutes in the house before leaving.

A Surrey police spokeswoman said: “We can confirm the two officers who entered the house were firearms officers. Firearms officers are routinely deployed on searches.”

She was unable to give a reason for their visit.

A tent was erected at the front of the address before scenes of crimes officers in full protective suits began combing through the family’s belongings.

The caravan in which the family had been staying at the Le Solitaire du Lac campsite in Saint-Jorioz was also examined by police.

Police plan to look at aspects of Mr Hilli’s life to try to find a motive for the murders and also speak with his brother, named in reports as Zaid Hilli.

Investigators have disclosed that Mr Hilli’s sibling approached UK police to deny any feud with his sibling over money.

It is also believed detectives will look into Mr Hilli’s profession, with reports emerging that he was working as a contractor for a satellites technology company in Surrey.

Four-year-old Zeena has spoken to police and confirmed that two of the victims were her parents, but said she did not know the Swedish woman very well.

Mr Maillaud said they were working with Swedish authorities as they try to confirm the older woman’s relationship to the family. French authorities have also asked their Italian and Swiss counterparts to help them in their hunt for the killer or killers.

Witnesses have said they saw a green four-wheel-drive vehicle in the area at the time of the killings, and possibly a motorbike.

Investigators have found 25 spent bullet cartridges at the scene on the outskirts of a forest near Lake Annecy, while two mobile phones found in Mr Hilli’s bullet-ridden BMW are being analysed by police.

PA/Reuters