French police are investigating if the murder of a British family in the Alps nearly a decade ago is linked to a plot to assassinate a hypnotist after matching bullets.
Detectives in Paris discovered Luger pistol ammunition at the home of a man arrested for a failed attempt to gun down business coach and psychotherapist Marie-Hélène Dini, 55.
The rounds, which fit the German-issue WWI and WWII pistol, are the same as the type used in the killing of a Surrey engineer, his wife and mother-in-law while they were on a family holiday with their young daughters in September 2012.
Saad al-Hilli, 50, his wife Iqbal, 47, and mother-in-law Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were gunned down along with a French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45. Their daughters Zeena, four, and Zainab, seven, survived the attack near Lake Annecy.
Police say 7.65mm cartridges, like those used in the 2012 attack, were discovered at the property of a man arrested after hit men turned up outside Ms Dini’s home in the Parisian suburbs last year, The Mirror reported.
Saad al-Hilli, 50, wife Iqbal, 47, and mother-in-law Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were gunned down inside their BMW estate car while on a family holiday in the Alps in France. Their daughters Zeena, four, and Zainab, seven, survived the attack near Lake Annecy.
Detectives say they have matched Luger pistol bullets discovered at the scene of the Al-Hilli murder with those found at the home of a man arrested over the plot to kill business coach and psychotherapist Marie-Hélène Dini, 55, at her home in the Paris suburbs last summer
Saad al-Hilli, 50, with his wife Iqbal, 47, and one of their daughters
Early in the morning last July, following a phone call from a concerned neighbour, police descended on two black-clad and gloved men waiting inside a car with a silenced pistol outside Ms Dini’s home in Créteil.
They told officers they were DGSE, the equivalent to MI6, and claimed they were on an official mission to kill Ms Dini because of something to do with Mossad, the Israeli secret service.
But police say these were hit men hired by a professional rival of the hypnotist, who paid £40,000 to have her killed.
Detectives have long hoped that the ammunition discovered at the Al-Hilli murder scene would give them a lead.
Twenty-one rounds were fired from a Luger P06 pistol that day, most at point blank range into the family’s BMW estate car, with another seven bullets shot at the French cyclist Mr Mollier, who was gunned down near the vehicle.
The Al-Hillis’ four-year-old daughter, Zeena, hid under the legs of her dead mother in the rear foot-well for eight hours – even after the gendarmerie arrived at the scene.
Seven-year-old Zainab was shot through the shoulder and managed to stumble out in front of the car before collapsing.
Iraqi-born engineer Saad al-Hilli lived in Surrey
Police probed if Iraqi-born Al-Hilli’s job as an engineer may have made him a target for the attack.
In 2013, his elder brother Zaid was arrested by Surrey police on suspicion of ordering the murder but was released without charge.
Since then the case has run cold, with Zaid Al Hilli telling The Mirror he is glad the police have a new lead.
‘I think this is plausible,’ he told the paper.
‘I have always believed [the cyclist] Sylvain Mollier was the target, and it was an assassination that went badly wrong.
‘I think there is no other explanation.
‘I always believed there was a cover-up.’
Several men have been arrested over the plot to assassinate Ms Dini last summer.
Last month, they arrested and charged Daniel B., a retired inspector who had worked for the police domestic intelligence service, or DCRI.
Daniel B. was the alleged mastermind of the plot which involved former police and intelligence officers working in private security.
Under questioning, he allegedly told officers that they had been hired by Jean-Luc A.B., a rival business coach with a grudge against Ms Dini.
A forensic investigator points to evidence at the murder scene in the Alps in 2012
Ammunition for a Luger pistol (stock image) was discovered at the home of a man arrested in the Ms Dini case. The same type of 7.65mm ammunition with fits the gun was used to kill the Al-Hillis
Daniel B. said he had offered his services to Jean-Luc A.B. because they knew each other through a masonic lodge in Puteaux, in the western suburbs of Paris.
The retired policeman said he was part of a ‘tiny group of freemasons who had turned their hands to carrying out hit contracts’, investigators told local media.
He is reported to have surprised police by admitting to taking part in the murder of Laurent Pasquali, a 43-year-old racing driver who was found buried in a forest in the Loire region in September 2019.
No connection had previously been made between this case and Ms Dimi’s.
Seven men remain in custody in Ms Dimi’s case as the investigation continues.
Daniel B., Jean-Luc A.B. and four others are facing preliminary charges of conspiracy to murder.