Detectives investigating the murder of a British man and his family during a holiday in the French Alps turn the focus of their inquiries to a feud between him and his brother.
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The body of Saad al-Hilli, 50, was found at the wheel of his car alongside those of his wife and a 74-year-old woman in the Annecy region of south east France on Wednesday afternoon. The massacre also killed a passing French cyclist, and left the family's seven-year-old daughter fighting for her life after the attacker bludgeoned her about the head and shot her in the shoulder.
Later, it emerged that their four-year-old daughter, named locally as Zeena, spent eight hours hiding underneath the skirt of her dead mother inside the car, "terrorised" with fear. It is believed detectives are set to question her.
Although an attempt was made to speak to her about the incident today, it is understood that she was unable to give any information which may shed light on the brutal killings.
The possibility of a family feud as a potential motive is to be looked at British police received information which was passed to French prosecutors.
As relatives of the two sisters prepare to travel to France to be reunited with them, detectives are to appeal for the driver of a 4x4 who was seen speeding off by a number of witnesses to come forward.
Post-mortem examinations are to begin today, and detectives hope that once the results are released, tonight or on Saturday morning, they will begin to get a clearer picture of the circumstances of the deaths.
The Saad al-Hilli's's seven-year-old daughter, who has been named by British neighbours of the family as Zainab, was found with head fractures to her skull and a bullet wound to her shoulder outside the car. She remains in an induced coma at Grenoble Hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery.
Peter Ricketts, the British ambassador to France, said the seven-year-old was still "seriously ill" but in a stable condition in hospital.
Investigators have so far failed to establish any firm motives for the killings, but they will now examine the theory that a family feud may have been involved.
However they have refused to rule out the possibility that Mr al-Hilli, an engineer and aviation expert of Iraqi origin who became a British citizen, was targeted by professional gunmen.
He and the elderly woman, a Swedish national, were shot with a bullet to the middle of the forehead, as was a French cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, 45, whose dead body was found near their car. Authorities in France are working on the possibility that he was caught up in the killings because he happened to be passing by.
Both girls are being kept under police protection, amid fears that the killer may attempt to strike at any remaining witnesses.
The bodies were discovered inside their car, a red BMW, with the doors locked and the engine still running by a British RAF veteran with a second home in the area who was cycling on a road towards a popular picnic spot in the Combe d'Ire nature reserve. He is now under police protection.
Police in Surrey, where the family lived, are now liasing with officers in France and are preparing to share forensic DNA evidence and fingerprints from the family home with their counterparts across the Channel with a view to establishing formal identification.
A French police officer involved in the murders is also to travel to the UK to meet British officers, according to reports in French press.
Mr al-Hilli, a freelance consultant who had been on a contract for the local firm, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, had arrived for a caravan holiday at the Le Solitaire du Lac campsite on Monday.
He and his wife, named by neighbours in the UK as Iqbal, were nearing the end of their trip when they were killed, with plans to return back to Surrey for the start of the school term.
Mr al-Hilli, who was born in Baghdad, lost his father last year, and his mother died several years earlier. His wife was said to be a dentist, and the older girl attended a local primary school in Claygate, Surrey.
As friends and neighbours of the family yesterday visited their home to lay floral tributes, sympathy over the killings was expressed by the French president, Francois Hollande.
Peter Ricketts, Britain's ambassador to Paris, also visited the area, praising the French authorities for their "professional" investigation.
06 September 2012