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Latest update : 2012-10-20

A French newspaper reported Friday that the French cyclist killed along with a British family in the French Alps last month was the first victim to have been shot, not the last, according to a ballistics test. Investigators have denied the claim.

A French cyclist killed along with three members of a British family on holiday in the Alpine region may have been the first of the victims to have been shot, according to a French media report based on a ballistics test.

Sylvain Mollier was thought to have been shot simply because he stumbled on last month's attack on the British-Iraqi family, but a ballistics report seen by reporters at French daily Le Parisien revealed that he may have been the first person shot, before the killer turned on the al-Hilli family, the website of paper reported Friday.

Saad al-Hilli, 50, his wife Iqbal, 47, and her mother Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were all shot and killed.

‘Claims not serious’

But Lieutenant Colonel Benoît Vinnemann, who is leading the inquiry into the murders, denied the press reports. “The order of the deaths of the four victims have not yet been determined,” he told AFP on Saturday.

Annecy state prosecutor Eric Maillaud also stressed that the order of the killings was unknown. “No serious investigator is capable of telling,” he told AFP Saturday.

He did confirm that Zainab al-Hilli, the elder daughter of the two survivors, had left the car during the attack, “but for what reason we have no idea,” he said.

Unprofessional job

The Parisien report detailed that father Saad Hilli was first shot outside the car and then finished off after he got back in the car and tried to drive off.

The reconstruction suggested that the killer had moved around a lot in an apparently disorganised manner, going from one victim to another and then back again, which would undermine the theory that a professional killer had been at work.

Seven-year-old Zainab al-Hilli nearly died after being shot in the shoulder and hit repeatedly around the head by the attacker. She has been unable to help the enquiry in any meaningful way.

Her four-year-old sister survived by sheltering under her mother's skirt in the back of the family's BMW estate car.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2012-10-20


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