France’s cold case unit orders new DNA tests in unsolved Alps murders | France

Detectives from France’s cold case unit have ordered DNA analysis of evidence in the unsolved killing of a British family and a French cyclist in a remote Alpine village 12 years ago.

Clothes belonging to one of the victims, cigarette butts found at the scene and pieces of the gun used in the killings are to be tested in the hopes of solving the mystery of the murders, described by the local prosecutor as “an act of gross savagery”.

The bodies of four people – Saad al-Hilli, 50, a British-Iraqi engineer; his wife, Iqbal, 47; her mother, Suhaila al-Allaf, 74; and a French cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, 45 – were found in an isolated layby at Chevaline near Annecy in September 2012. Each had several gunshot wounds to the head.

The al-Hillis’ two daughters, then aged four and seven, both survived the attack. The younger child hid under the legs of her dead mother in the rear footwell of the car for eight hours before she was discovered by the gendarmes examining the scene. Her sister was shot and suffered a shoulder and head wound.

The family was visiting the region in a British-registered BMW estate car whose engine was still running when the bodies were found. Examination of the vehicle suggested al-Hilli, who was driving, had attempted to reverse away. Mollier, a local man and father of three who was cycling in the area at the time, was shot five times. Detectives believed he was “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

Pieces from the butt of the weapon used in the killings, a vintage Luger P06-29 pistol, were found on the ground near the vehicle. The weapon was identified as a model used by the Swiss army in the 1930s, but its owner has never been traced. Detectives ruled out the possibility of a contract killing, saying a professional killer would not have used such a vintage weapon.

Police examined a number of leads, including interviewing members of the al-Hilli family in the UK, but the crime has never been solved.

On Wednesday, the French radio station RTL reported that prosecutors at the national cold case unit headquarters in the Paris suburb of Nanterre had been working on the case since September 2022 and ordered “new technical assessments” earlier this year.

This included DNA tests on the gun fragments, two cigarette butts found near the layby, Mollier’s clothing, including his cycle helmet and shoes, and clothing worn by one of al-Hilli’s daughters.

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