Who was Saad al-Hilli and what happened to him and his family?

Almost a decade ago, the al-Hilli family of Surrey were killed in the Alps by an unknown assailant.

The case is the subject of a new documentary, Murder in the Alps, which aims to shed light on the complex and mysterious case.

Who was Saad al-Hilli?

Victim Saad al-Hilli was 50 years old when he traveled to the French Alps with his family.

This holiday ended in tragedy when businessman Saad, his wife Iqbal, 47, and mother-in-law Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were executed in their car.

The British-Iraqi tourist was stopped at a rest stop near Lake Annecy when he died.

At the time of the murders, it was believed that Saad may have been the primary target due to his work in aerospace engineering and science and technology.

The BMW's engine was reportedly still running when the family was found


The BMW’s engine was reportedly still running when the family was foundPhoto credit: Doug Seeburg – The Sun

Evidence of a financial feud in the family, which may have been the motive for a professional hit, was also examined.

According to initial investigations, Saad was the seasoned killer’s primary target, but other lines of investigation have revealed that the family were merely tragic witnesses to another murder.

what happened to you

The truth about the September 5, 2012 deaths is unknown, although theories abound.

Each adult member of the al-Hilli family was shot twice in the head in their BMW car by what prosecutors called a “mysterious motorcyclist”.

French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45, was shot dead seven times at close range just a short walk away.

British cyclist Brett Martin arrived at the scene, discovered the carnage and rushed home to alert police.

The murder weapon, a classic Swiss Army 7.65mm P06 Luger, was identified from fragments of the weapon found at the scene, but the owner was never located.

At the time of his death, divorced welder Sylvain had just had a child with wealthy Annecy heiress Claire Schulz, whose family owns a multi-million dollar pharmacy chain.

Claire, 16 years Sylvain’s junior, had just bought him the £4,000 mountain bike he was riding when he was killed alongside the al-Hillis.

A source from Annecy told The Sun: “There was talk of Sylvain and Claire being a slightly odd couple but they had just had a baby and were still together when he was killed.

“Claire had bought him a very expensive new bike and a member of the family suggested he ride up the path through Chevaline.

“It has been confirmed that he was not familiar with this route – and it is strange that he was on a road he had never been before when he met his killer.”

French prosecutors said in 2017 they had no working theory and the family may have been targeted indiscriminately, but the case remains open.

Possibilities of gang connections have also been investigated, as has a serial killer, but due to a lack of evidence at the crime scene, police were unable to pin down a prevailing theory.

A suspect was not arrested until January 2022, nearly 10 years after the killings, but was released without charge and ruled out by authorities as the killer.

What happened to daughters Zeena and Zainab?

Saad’s two daughters, Zeena and Zainab, survived the attack, with Zeena being shot in the shoulder.

Zeena, who was four at the time of the attack, hid under her mother’s skirt in the footwell of the car for eight hours.

Her sister Zainab was seven and wasn’t so lucky – the killer shot her, beat her and left her for dead.

Arriving at the scene, Brett saw Zainab stumble onto the street before collapsing.

Zainab survived the attack, but both sisters were too traumatized to remember the event clearly.

They were questioned by French authorities to try to gather new evidence.

In 2017, with the help of the adopted relatives, the daughters applied for a payout from the French criminal justice authority.

Officials blocked the payout, insisting that “a crime could not be established” because no killer had been tracked down. Who was Saad al-Hilli and what happened to him and his family?


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