Police suspect 'lone psychopath' in French Alps killings
French gendarmes block access to a road to La Combe d'Ire in Chevaline near Annecy, southeastern France (Reuters/Robert Pratta)
By 3 News online staff
Details of the police investigation into the unexplained killings of four people in the French Alps have been leaked to French newspaper Le Monde.
The official account of the murders suggests the killer is more likely to have been a "lone psychopath" than a professional assassin, The Independent reports.
British-Iraqi father Saad al-Hilli, 50, his 47-year-old wife Iqbal, her 74-year-old mother Suhaila, and 45-year-old local cyclist Sylvain Mollier were killed in the attack above Lake Annecy on September 5. The al-Hillis’ four-year-old daughter Zeena survived the attack physically unharmed, but their seven-year-old daughter Zainab was left severely injured after being shot and beaten around the head with a pistol.
The report suggests the older sister only survived because the gunman ran out of bullets.
Twenty-two 7.65mm cartridge cases were found at the scene. Police say the gun used in the killings was a pre-World War II Luger Po6 automatic pistol. Described as an "obsolete" weapon, the pistol was once issued to the Swiss Army during the 1920s and 1930s. The choice of such a weapon is one of the reasons the report suggests the murderer was unlikely to be a professional killer.
The background of the victims in the attack has led to speculation about possible motives for the killings.
Mr al-Hilli, who was born in Baghdad, worked as an aerospace engineer for a British satellite technology company. He was part of a team connected to a project with the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), one of the world’s leading defence and military contractors.
The French cyclist who was killed in the attack, Mr Mollier, has been investigated for his links to the French nuclear industry. The Guardian newspaper reports he worked as a welder for the subsidiary of a nuclear company in France.
And there have also been reports that Mr al-Hilli was involved in a family quarrel over money.
But despite these possible leads, French police say the possibility of a random killing is looking more likely.
"The hypothesis of a lone and psychologically disturbed killer, is gaining ground," Annecy area prosecutor Eric Maillaud told Le Monde.