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French Alps shooting scene like a TV crime show: Witness

September 14, 2012
LONDON: The scene of the shooting of a British-Iraqi family in France resembled the set of a TV crime show, the British man who discovered the victims said yesterday.

“It was pretty much what you would imagine a set from (TV crime series) ‘CSI Miami’ would be like,” Brett Martin told the BBC, in his first television interview since the shooting Wednesday last week.

“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 al-Hilli, 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 the village of 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.”

Investigators say Zainab was shot in the shoulder and beaten.

Her parents, Saad and Iqbal, her grandmother and Frenchman Sylvain Mollier — the passing cyclist — had been shot dead.

Zainab’s four-year-old sister Zeena was found unhurt eight hours after the attack after hiding under the skirts of the dead women.

Eric Maillaud, the French prosecutor in charge of the investigation, said on Thursday after arriving in Surrey, the area of southeast England where the 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.

Surrey Police later said in a statement that a meeting had taken place between Maillaud, the French judge leading the investigation, senior members of the French paramilitary police, Surrey Police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

The statement said the meeting had been “extremely productive”.

It 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.

“The UK and French authorities are extremely pleased with the progress which has been made.”

A source close to the inquiry told AFP that Maillaud and the judge would return to France today.



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