French police sources apparently told reporters that the ‘professional’ style of the murders – three of the four victims were killed with a single bullet wound to the head – had lead to speculation that it could have been a professional hit organised in the context of a family feud.
Saad al-Hilli, 50, his wife Iqbal, 47, and Iqbal’s 77-year-old mother were all shot dead in their family car while on a camping holiday in the French Alps.
The Hillis’ seven-year-old daughter was discovered severely beaten in the road by the car. She had also been shot in the shoulder. She is said to be “stable” in a medically induced coma.
The Hillis’ younger daughter, aged four, was found unharmed and hiding beneath the bodies in the car. A passing cyclist, named as Frenchman Sylvain Mollier, was also killed, presumably for disturbing the attack.
The Daily Mail reported that Saad al-Hilli was known to security services and was under Metropolitan Police Special Branch surveillance at the time of the second Gulf war.
According to reports, al-Hilli was born in Baghdad and moved to Britain in the Seventies. He had been living in Claygate, Surrey, since the early Eighties. Police were at the family home yesterday (pictured).
A neighbour of the family has fuelled speculation that it was a contract killing by telling Radio 5 Live yesterday that Saad had said something to him before he left that might provide an explanation.
“I know one little thing which I am not prepared to speak (about) at the moment. I will tell the police about it,” Jack Saltman said.
“It was something Saad said to me before he went, but at this stage I do not feel I can disclose that, but I will tell the police exactly what he told me before he left.”
Adding to the swirl of rumours are claims that there could have been an inheritcance row, a theory that the family could have stumbled across a drug deal, and that they were the victims of a carjacking robbery.
Yesterday, public prosecutor Eric Maillaud said: “I do not want to invent or imagine, my role is to discover what happened.”