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Telephone glitch delays hotline for French Alps shooting witnesses

French police have renewed calls for information to solve the shooting murders in the French Alps in September
French police have renewed calls for information to solve the shooting murders in the French Alps in September Reuters

French police investigating the shooting deaths of a British-Iraqi family in the Alps have delayed launching a hotline for witnesses because there is no dedicated phone number for people to call.

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The public relations office of the paramilitary police in charge of the case says a dedicated number should be assigned by the beginning of next week.

Police have renewed an appeal for information as they investigate the shooting murders of 50-year old Saad al-Hilli, his 47-wife Iqbal, and her 74-year old mother, Suhaila al-Allaf.

They were shot dead in their car on September 5 at Chevaline, near Annecy.

A 45-year old Frenchman who apparently stumbled across the scene was also killed.

The family’s two daughters survived the attack but only the elder one, seven year old Zainab al-Hilli, saw anything of what happened.

However, police say she has been unable to help the inquiry in any meaningful way.

Zainab was shot in the shoulder and hit repeatedly around the head by the attacker, while her four-year-old sister survived unhurt by hiding under her mother's skirt in the back of the family's BMW estate car.

Lieutenant Colonel Benoit Vinnemann, the senior gendarme on the inquiry team, says 650 people had already been questioned.

"We need to match up or add to the information we have," he says, adding new avenues of inquiry have opened up.

On Friday, the prosecutor at Annecy, Eric Maillaud, appealed for any witnesses to come forward.

"There could be someone who saw something important that could progress the inquiry, whether it was just seeing the family car drive past or other vehicles,” he said.

"Even if it is just a matter of allowing us to establish the exact movements of the family, it could help."

Police found at least 25 cartridges at the scene and sources have told the news agency AFP that forensic examination of them indicated they were all fired from one gun.

The investigators have been building up a detailed profile of the assets of the late father of Saad al-Hilli, following suggestions early in the inquiry that a disputed inheritance could be linked to the murder.

But that theory has been dismissed by Saad's brother Zaid, who has been interviewed several times on a voluntary basis by police in the UK.

The Swiss newspaper La Tribune de Genève reported in its online edition on Friday that
Swiss authorities had seized money in a Geneva account linked to the killings.

 

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