Police probe al-Hilli's secret meetings before Annecy killing

Sep 11, 2012

Saad al-Hilli met several people and switched campsites suddenly before he and his family were attacked

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THE BRITISH father murdered along with his wife, mother-in-law and a passing cyclist near Lake Annecy in southeast France last week had secretly met a number of people during his caravan holiday and suddenly moved campsites just two days before the shooting, it has emerged.

The revelations, when considered along with the fact that Saad al-Hilli took his family on holiday just when his two daughters were due to start school, adds to speculation that he was a man under pressure.

Saad al-Hilli, his wife Iqbal, his mother-in-law Suhaila al-Allaf and his daughters Zainab and Zeena arrived at the Village Camping Europa on 1 September.

Two Dutch tourists staying at the campsite said: "We were told they planned to stay all week but they left suddenly after two days. The father left the site in his car alone four or five times each day. He went out for 20 or 30 minutes each time.

"The first time we thought he was going to the shops but it was very odd to go out so often."

The Dutch pair added that although nobody visited the family, they did notice an unusually smartly dressed man at the campsite who appeared "to come from the Balkans", according to The Daily Telegraph.

On Monday 3 September the al-Hillis moved to the nearby Solitaire du Lac campsite. Two days later the family drove to a secluded car park 12 miles away where they were attacked.

Saad, Iqbal and Suhaila were killed, while seven-year-old Zainab was shot in the shoulder and hit over the head, probably with the butt of the gun used to shoot her family. Zeena, 4, was found unharmed hours later hiding under her mother's skirt in the back of the family BMW estate.

A French police source said that al-Hilli was known to have switched campsites suddenly and to have met a number of people during his holiday.

The source told The Daily Telegraph: "We are going through them now but we don't have all the names yet. We now have a very precise timetable of their movements."

Meanwhile, The Times reports, Zainab, the only witness to the attack, has awoken from a medically induced coma and appears to remember some details. A French police source said: "They have been able to speak to her but they could not go into any detail... the child was very tired."

In other developments, police now believe all 25 bullets used in the murder came from a single weapon: a 7.65mm sub-machinegun, probably a Czech-made Skorpion vz.61.

Back at the al-Hilli family home in Claygate, Surrey, police were last night trying to crack open a safe. Al-Hilli, a mechanical engineer who had been working on defence contracts, told neighbours before he left for France that he was worried about "important documents".

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