Chevaline Murder Case … Still unsolved …

Two years and six months after the fatal shooting of an Iraqi-born British family and a Frenchman in France’s Haute-Savoie (Upper Savoy) region, the police still have no clue as to who the killer was or the killers were. I say ‘police’ and not ‘French police’ as the British police are as much in the […]

Saad Al-Hilli

Saad Al-Hilli

Two years and six months after the fatal shooting of an Iraqi-born British family and a Frenchman in France’s Haute-Savoie (Upper Savoy) region, the police still have no clue as to who the killer was or the killers were. I say ‘police’ and not ‘French police’ as the British police are as much in the dark with this case as are their French counterparts.

Saad Al-Hilli, then 50, his wife Iqbal, then 47, and her mother the septuagenarian Suhaila Al-Allaf, as well as a Frenchman, Sylvian Mollier, then 45, were gunned down on a lay-by near to the Upper Savoy village of Chevaline. Mollier apparently had no connection with the Iraqi-born family, but had come across their shooting while out on an afternoon of cycling and as witness had to be gunned down as well.

This had happened on Wednesday, September 5, 2012.

Since that day few official communiqués have been issued about what was a real slaughter, the Al-Hillis and Mrs Al-Allaf, having been gunned down in the family’s BMW,  and Mr Mollier having been shot down close to the car. The Al-Hilli’s two young daughters were also present at the shooting, the eldest having been shot too but not fatally, while the younger one had escaped the slaughter as her mother had had time to hide her under her skirt.

The case is one of those which immediately drew attention world-wide and still does. Having written about the shooting that September of 2012, a discussion developed here on my website and quickly more than 100 people daily chatted about the case.  (I eventually closed the discussion at the end of 2013.)

Today, (Tuesday, March 10, 2015) we were reminded by the Paris-based daily Le Parisien that the case remains unsolved. The daily’s crime reporter Jean-Marc Ducos also had a few titbits to reveal about the investigation.

By the way, you can read about the case on the following links because I am not going to repeat what I had already written about it. I do recommend that you read up on the case on these links because the comments which had been posted bring the case alive should you have only learned of it now reading this piece.

here – September 6, 2012

here – September 8, 2012

here – October 25, 2012

here – November 7, 2012

here – December 9, 2012

here – March 3, 2013

here – April 20, 2013

here – May, 31, 2013

here – June 16, 2013

here  – July 1, 2013

here – July 17,2013

here – July 30, 2013

 here – September 2,1013

From what Jean-Marc Ducos writes in ‘Le Parisien’ it is clear that the British police have not really cooperated with the French investigators.  Neither have the FBI. The FBI had become involved because Iqbal Al-Hilli had been married before to an American who had succumbed to a heart-attack on the very day that the Al-Hillis were being shot to death in France. He had apparently died of a heart-attack, but the French had asked the Americans to exhume his body for tests to be carried out to ascertain whether he had really died of a heart-attack. The FBI refused to allow an exhumation.

As for the British police being uncooperative (my view and not that of Jean-Marc Ducos) they had failed to tell the French about an incident outside the house where the Al-Hillis’ two orphaned girls were living with foster parents. The man was taking pictures of the house and of the area. Two police guarding the house to assure the safety of the two girls had taken the man in for questioning but had soon again released him. When the French police did eventually learn of the man all that the Brits would tell them was that he was a former Royal Marine.  He had told the British police that he was taking photographs of the area because he was thinking of buying a house there. The French, as ‘Le Parisien’ reports, wanted to know from the British police whether they knew if the man had the financial means to buy property, but had not received a reply. (The two girls have since gone to live with an aunt.)

‘Le Parisien’ also reports that the passports of the Al-Hillis and that of Mrs Al-Allaf, reported missing, had never been ‘missing’. At the time of the shooting much had been made of the fact that the family’s passports were missing: in a contract killing an identity document, like a passport, is always presented as proof that the murder had been carried out. The passports had not been missing, after all. After the French police had fine-combed the BMW and the family’s caravan, and the British police the family’s home in Claygate in Surrey (England) the passports were found in the inside pocket of Saad Al-Hilli’s pullover. Had the French police not gone through the pockets of the victims? Apparently not. Not immediately.

Another titbit revealed by ‘Le Parisien’ is that the British police had found that someone had been spying on the computer of Mrs Al-Allaf. The spy ware had been activated just when her son, and therefore the brother of Iqbal Al-Hilli, Haydar Taher, 48, a resident of Sweden, had gone to live in England.  There had been a family dispute at the time of the shooting because Mrs Al-Allaf had decided to make a large donation to the two Al-Hilli daughters.This was something which had displeased several family members including Mr Taher. The latter was reported to have mental problems: on occasion he had physically threatened his parents, and after his father’s death, the widowed Mrs Al-Allaf.

The most interesting titbit in ‘Le Parisien’s’ story is that a motorcyclist seen by two forest guards in the vicinity of the murder scene at the time of the shooting has been identified. The newspaper does not however name him, but only reveals that he is ‘well-known and above all suspicion’.  He is the head of a business in the Rhône-Alpes region which borders that of the region of Upper-Savoy. He had been doing some hand gliding and was on his way back home. He had told the French police that he had ‘seen nothing’ and had not ‘taken notice of all the media hype’ about the motorcyclist. It was reported that the motorcyclist had a goatee and wore an unusual black crash helmet. He was identified after the police had checked up on the owners of 4,000 mobile (cell) phones which were in the region on the afternoon of the killing.

The police are to question the man again, claims ‘Le Parisien’. They want him to ‘refresh his memory’.

So, there you are: the murders remain unsolved.

The village of Chevaline is 600 kms (372 miles) from Paris and is in fact much closer to the Swiss city of Geneva – just 60 kms (65 miles).  It is an area known for drug and people smuggling.

Chevaline is the French for horse meat. And yes the French eat horse meat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

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