French Alps massacre: 4yo girl Zeena al-Hilli hides under dead mum's skirt for 8 hours

Updated: 07 Sep 2012
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Little Zeena al-Hilli cowered under the skirt of her dead mother for EIGHT hours as bungling cops stood just yards away.

The terrified four-year-old crouched beneath a seat in her family’s BMW after seeing her father, mum and gran gunned down in a hail of bullets in the Alps.

But police “assumed” everyone inside the car was dead – and simply placed a guard around it as they waited for a forensic team to arrive.

When the traumatised youngster was finally pulled from the carnage at around midnight she cried: “Where is mummy? I want my mummy?”

She told police she was so frightened she “could not tell the difference between the good guys and bad guys”.

The shocking delay in rescuing the youngster prompted outrage on both side of the Channel.

But tonight Lt Col Benois Vinnemann, who is in charge of the inquiry, defended his officers.

He said: “Our role was to preserve the crime scene.

"To search the car thoroughly would have to lead to the loss of fundamental ballistic evidence.”

He admitted Zeena was only found when detectives arrived at the scene in Chaviline from Paris – more than a seven-hour drive away.

Describing the emotional moment, he said: “She smiled with relief. She said she hid when she heard noises.”

Zeena was examined in hospital and taken into protective care.

She may soon be gently interviewed to see if she can provide any clues to the killings.

It is feared she saw her father, Saad and mother Iqbal, both 50, of Claygate, Surrey, and Iqbal’s 77-year-old mother shot dead in their car near Lake Annecy on a family holiday.

A fourth victim, Frenchman Sylvain Mollier, a father of three in his 40s, who was cycling past at the time was also killed execution style with a shot to the head.

Mr al-Hilli’s older daughter Zainab, seven, was found close to the car by another cyclist – a British expat, believed to be an RAF veteran.

She had a number of bullet wounds and a fractured skull after being beaten about the head.

The British expat, who has not been named, was praised for helping to save her life by putting her into to recovery position before raising the alarm at around 4pm on Wednesday.

Last night she was said to be critically ill in a coma at a hospital in Grenoble.

 

SOURCE: mirror.co.uk

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