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Meeting over Alps killings 'productive': British police

15 september 2012, 12:00
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British police personnel carry out a search of the home of Saad and Iqbal al-Hilli.
British police personnel carry out a search of the home of Saad and Iqbal al-Hilli.
British police have hailed "extremely productive" talks with the French prosecutor and the judge leading the probe into the killing of a British family in the French Alps last week, AFP reports.

The attack on September 5 near the village of Chevaline saw Saad al-Hilli, his wife Iqbal, her mother and Frenchman Sylvain Mollier -- a passing cyclist -- shot dead.

The Hillis' seven-year-old daughter Zainab has been hospitalised since suffering serious head injuries in the attack which four-year-old sister Zeena survived by hiding under the skirts of the dead women.

Surrey Police said in a statement Thursday that they had met with French prosecutor Eric Maillaud, who is in charge of the investigation, along with judge Michel Mollin, members of the French paramilitary police and of the Britain's Crown Prosecution Service.

The statement said that "progress had been made in relation to a number of issues arising from the challenges and complexities of an enquiry across two judicial processes.

"The meeting built on the already established strong working relationships between all parties involved," the statement added.

It said that the meeting had been "extremely productive".

Maillaud said earlier Thursday, after arriving in Surrey, southeast England where the Hilli family lived, that the cause of the killings lay in Britain.

"We are perfectly aware that Annecy is just the chance location of this drama and that it seems that the origin, the causes and the explanation are here," he told journalists in the town of Woking in Surrey.

Meanwhile Swedish legal documents obtained by AFP in Stockholm said Suhaila Al-Allaf, the mother of Iqbal al-Hilli and the oldest victim of the shooting, had for years suffered from beatings at the hands of her mentally unstable son.

Haydar Thaher, 46, had repeatedly "insulted, threatened and beaten his parents over a very long time", said one document.

Police had been called out to their home in the southern suburbs of Stockholm eight times between 2001 and 2007. Thaher still lived at home because of mental health problems, the documents added.

But a source close to the French-led inquiry into the shootings told AFP Thursday that "it was not worth focusing" on this new Swedish angle.

"It's not relevant," he said.

The source also said that Maillaud and the judge would return to France on Friday.

Earlier Thursday the British man who discovered the victims of the shootings gave his first television interview saying the scene had resembled the set of a TV crime show.

"It was pretty much what you would imagine a set from (TV crime series) 'CSI Miami' would be like," Brett Martin told the BBC.

"There was a lot of blood and heads with bullet holes in them."

He said one of the family's daughters, seven-year-old Zainab, was "prone on the road, moaning, sort of semi-conscious" when he stumbled across the scene in a forest area in Annecy.

Martin, a former member of Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF), said he came across the tragic scene after he had set out for a bicycle ride in the French Alps at about 2:30 pm (1330 GMT).

As he climbed a hill near Chevaline, he was confronted with the bloodbath, first spotting a French cyclist who had been shot dead.

"It was the sort of thing you would never in your life expect to come across," he said.

"As I approached the scene, the first thing I saw was a bike on its side. I had seen the cyclist ahead of me much earlier so I thought he was just having a rest.

"As I got a little bit closer, a very young child stumbled out onto the road and at first I thought she was actually just playing with her sibling because she sort of looked, from a distance, as if she was falling over, larking about like a child would.

"However, as I approached her it was obvious that she was quite badly injured and there was a lot of blood on her.

"As I got even closer, I then saw the car with its engine revving and its wheels spinning. It seemed at that moment in time like there had been a terrible car accident."

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