16:39 11 September 2012
The four people shot dead in the French Alps were slain with the same gun, the police have confirmed as the surviving girl has been interviewed along with a cyclist who discovered the scene.
A French cyclist was one of the first on the scene after the onslaught, which is thought to be an assassination. As he neared the scene, he described how the seven-year-old survivor who was shot, beaten and left for dead at the scene appeared lifeless.
The witness, named only as Philippe D, was quoted by the Guardian: "She wasn't responding to our calls. I tapped her hands but she did not respond. I even spoke a few [words] in English, because I saw the car was registered in Great Britain. But there was nothing. To me, she was dead."
The scene saw Iraqi-born British engineer Saad al-Hilli, 50, his dentist wife, Iqbal, 47, and her 74-year-old mother dead from multiple bullet wounds in the family car. Another French cyclist (thought to be a witness) was also slain and had been shot seven times. In all, the four deceased had been shot in the head twice - seen as a strong sign that this was a professional assassination.
The police have since confirmed that just one pistol was involved which also suggests a lone gunman. The murder weapon which spent some 25 cartridges was a 7.65mm automatic pistol, a medium calibre. More typical and modern pistols tend to be 9mm. Pistols seldom have a clip that supports 25 bullets so it suggests that the assassin reloaded at least once.
"There was only one weapon used in the attack on the Hilli family at Chevaline, according to a source close to the inquiry," a journalist told the Guardian.
"The weapon used was an automatic pistol of a 7.65mm calibre, a medium calibre considered as old by experts and not corresponding to modern weapons."
From the massacre only two potential witnesses survived - both little girls and daughters to Saad al-Hilli.
School girl Zainab Al-Hilli was heavily sedated but, according to The Daily Record, said "What’s happening? I’m so scared." upon being woken up from her medically induced coma.
Zainab is thought of as a key witness to which Chief prosecutor Eric Maillaud said: “We hope she will provide lots of information but the interview will be an extremely delicate one.”
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