French cyclist 'was prime target' in Alps massacre
A FRENCHMAN was the prime target in the French Alps massacre, not a British family, according to reports citing ballistic findings stating the cyclist was shot first.
Briton Saad al-Hilli, one of five killed on September 5 in a remove forest car park near Lake Annecy, was outside his BMW when the attacker struck, it has been confirmed for the first time.
Until now, it was assumed that the Hilli family was the prime target in the horrific murder. Mr Hilli (50) his dentist wife Iqbal (47) and his 74-year-old Swedish mother-in-law, Suhaila Al-Allaf, were all found dead in the family car that day.
All four adults died in blaze of automatic gunfire which also left Mr Hilli's eldest daughter, Zainab (7) with horrific head and shoulder injuries. Her four-year-old sister, Zeena, survived, apparently by hiding under her mother's corpse on the floor of their car.
It was previously believed French cyclist Sylvain Mollier (45) who worked at factory that supplies equipment to nuclear power plants, had stumbled on the murder scene.
Police, who have analysed different ballistic angles are now working under the assumption that Mr Mollier was shot first, according to Le Parisien. The 45-year-old French father-of-three was hit by at least five bullets.
Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud yesterday vehemently denied that investigators had any idea of the order the victims were shot, calling it a "web of lies and pure invention".
However, he confirmed that it was suspected that Mr Hilli was outside the car when he was shot.
He said close examination of shoe prints in the mud reportedly confirmed this.
Following the provisional scenario cited by Le Parisien, Mr Hilli then desperately rushed back into his car and tried to reverse, but got stuck in the mud at the entrance to the forest.
It has been established that a British witness first on the scene found the motor still running and the doors locked.
With the Hilli family powerless to move, the gunman opened fire then approached the vehicle and opened fire.
Only once he had executed the Britons did the assailant then turn his attentions back to Mr Mollier to finish him off, according to the reported provisional scenario, as he received a second series of shots at a different angle.
They are reportedly certain that the assailant then dragged the French cyclist's body round in an arc towards the car, lying him out beside the vehicle with his arms by his sides.
Gendarmes are said to be convinced that there was only one gunman.
According to Le Parisien, they believe he displayed highly "disorderly behaviour" on the crime scene, "going from one victim to the other and going back to another one by one to finish them off".
This behaviour, one gendarme was quoted as saying, was "not consistent with the profile of a professional killer".
Mr Maillaud last night furiously denied that police were aware of the order in which the victims were killed but he would not deny that Mr Mollier's body had been moved.
He also said that police were looking for a motorbike that British RAF veteran William Brett Martin had crossed before he stumbled on the crime scene.
It was seen in the vicinity of the crime scene at around 4pm – within half an hour of the killings.
A local farmer said he saw the rider looking "unsure of the route", and struggling to manoeuvre his bike over potholed roads.
Mr Maillaud last week revealed how the girls posed for three pictures with their parents just 33 minutes before the atrocity was first reported.
The prosecutor said that there was particular interest in a bank account in the nearby Swiss city of Geneva in Mr Hilli's name.
Believed to contain around three-quarters-of-a-million pounds, it is thought to be linked to the will the Hillis were arguing about.
Aerospace engineer Mr Hilli also kept an illegal Taser defence weapon at home – suggesting that he lived in fear of attack.