Relative seeks return of UK children who survived French Alps murders

Relative of UK couple slain in France wants girls placed in foster care reunited with the family

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 4:05am

A relative of the British family murdered in the French Alps demanded that UK authorities return the two children who survived the attack to their family.

Dr Ahmad al-Saffar also claimed a French nuclear worker found dead at the scene was the intended target of the attack.

Saffar said the family wanted the two children who survived returned to them from foster care, where they were placed when they came back to Britain.

He said the family believed the sisters, aged seven and four, should be brought up in a Muslim household. Saffar said that they were being kept in foster care "against their will", which was exacerbating the "pain and suffering" caused by the loss of their parents.

Saffar is the uncle of Iqbal al-Saffar, who was found dead in a car in Annecy last month. Also shot dead was her husband, Iraqi-born Saad al-Hilli, from Surrey, southeast England, and her mother.

One of their children was shot and beaten with a pistol, while another escaped unhurt. Nearby, the body of a French cyclist was found.

Saffar criticised the French prosecutor and said the family felt they were not being treated as victims but were being put on trial and their lives put under a microscope.

Recent reports said ballistic tests showed the French cyclist was shot first, contrary to what had been first reported about the attack. The French authorities said they did know who was shot first.

Saffar said his family resented the speculation that feuds among relatives may have been a motive for the killing.

He said: "From my family's perception I do not see any single reason why three members of my family were the targets for a murder. I do not see any reason.

"None of these [supposed motives] the French prosecutor has mentioned are credible at all.

"I think the French cyclist was the target. The mounting evidence and leaks are saying the main target was the cyclist. There was no reason for our family to be targeted in France when they were on vacation."

The cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, worked as a welder at a subsidiary plant of a French nuclear company.

Saffar dismissed speculation about a row over the will of Saad al-Hilli's father: "I think this is ridiculous. This is not something unique to the al-Hilli family. Some differences arose after the father's death, but the family are civilised people. They are not solving their problems in this brutal way."

He added: "The French prosecutor is putting our family on trial. They are not being treated as the victims any longer, they are the accused."

Hilli's seven-year-old daughter, Zainab, was left severely wounded, and four-year-old Zeena traumatised after hiding under her mother as the gunman sprayed the car with bullets.

Saffar said Surrey County Council, which placed the orphaned sisters in foster care, should return the children to the family. "Their suffering and pain continues on top of what pain and suffering they have experienced," he said. "They should be with their family to give them some comfort and we see that every time we meet them."


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