Sep 7 2012
Relatives of two British sisters who survived the "savage" slaying of three members of their family in the French Alps will be brought to the country to be reunited with them, authorities have said.
Post-mortem examinations will be carried out later on Iraqi-born Saad al-Hilli, 50, who was gunned down in his car alongside his dentist wife, named by neighbours as Iqbal, and a woman believed to be her mother.
The motive behind the killings remained a mystery on Friday, with French authorities investigating a number of lines of inquiry.
The al-Hillis' four-year-old daughter, named locally as Zeena, was found alive in the BMW estate underneath the bodies of her relatives around eight hours after the massacre, which also saw a passing French cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, 45, shot dead.
The couple's seven-year-old daughter, believed to be called Zainab, was in a medically induced coma in Grenoble University Hospital after being repeatedly beaten around the head and shot in the shoulder in the attack, which took place on Wednesday.
Three of the four who were killed were shot in the middle of the head.
Prosecutor Eric Maillaud said British police had reported that the girl's father was in dispute with his brother over money. However, there was no evidence to suggest this was connected to the incident.
The children, apparently the only witnesses to the shootings on an isolated Alpine road, are now under police protection.
Sir Peter Ricketts, the British ambassador to France, said the elder girl was still "seriously ill" but in a stable condition in hospital. He said both sisters would be looked after by British consular staff until members of their family could be brought to France.
Sir Peter said: "We're all determined to get to the bottom of this as soon as we can. Everybody shares the same determination that the perpetrators of this awful crime are brought to justice as soon as possible. This is particularly violent and brutal, but also has this heartrending dimension of the two small girls. It's a unique case in my experience."