Family dispute? Settling scores ? Industrial espionage case? The ultra-media file known as the “killing of Chevaline” in France (“Alps murders” on the other side of the Channel) remains an enigma, after thousands of hours of investigation and hundreds of hearings .

Investigators did “everything humanly possible, but as long as the DNA leads nowhere and there are no eyewitnesses, it’s the perfect crime”, notes a close source folder.

On September 5, 2012, around 3:30 p.m., a British cyclist, Brett Martin, saw on the Combe d’Ire forest road a racing bike lying on the ground, a BMW, engine running, and a little girl bleeding, staggering then collapses. Thinking first of a road accident, he then sees in the car “a lot of blood and heads pierced by bullet holes”.

The investigation will show that Saad al-Hilli, a 50-year-old engineer, his wife Iqbal, 47, his mother-in-law Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, a Swedish woman of Iraqi origin, have just been shot at close range , with Sylvain Mollier, a 45-year-old local worker on a road trip.

Only the al-Hilli couple’s two little girls survived, then aged four and seven. Zainab, the eldest, was shot in the shoulder, knocked unconscious and left for dead. Zeena, huddled at her mother’s feet in the back of the car, saw nothing.

– A seasoned “bad guy” –

Ten years later, the “bad guy” described by little Zainab when she left hospital has not been identified and her motive remains mysterious. It is not known if he acted alone.

Described by investigators as a “seasoned”, “very experienced” man, or as a “low-cost hitman from the Balkans”, the killer fired 21 times in a few minutes, 17 bullets hit their target. The weapon, a 7.65 parabellum caliber Luger P06, an old model used in the Swiss army, has never been found.

Symptomatically, the 90-volume file is awaiting transfer to the Nanterre judiciary dedicated to “serial and unsolved crimes”. Still lacks the approval of the investigating judge, according to the Annecy prosecution.

In ten years, magistrates and gendarmes have succeeded each other and the numbers assigned to the investigation have shrunk, going from around a hundred in the first months to three full-time in 2022.

This massacre of “incredible savagery” generated a “particularly complex” investigation, as the public prosecutor at the time, Éric Maillaud, had said. Last February, prosecutor Line Bonnet, the third on the case, said she was still convinced of the chances of succeeding “thanks to scientific evidence”, even if the different tracks look like dead ends.

Zaïd al-Hilli, Saad’s older brother, was quickly suspected because of a dispute over the paternal inheritance involving three to five million euros in property and buildings. But he has an alibi.

The thesis of industrial espionage was explored, Saad working for an English company specializing in civilian satellites (weather, crop monitoring). No result.

The al-Hilli family fled Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the 1970s, abandoning their possessions in Baghdad. These roots in a country since plunged into a bloody civil war have raised questions, unanswered to this day.

The hypotheses of a lone killer acting on his own or a crazed gunman who posted himself on the lone road were also considered.

And the research carried out around a mysterious biker seen by witnesses near the scene of the shooting gave nothing. Identified after months of silence, this entrepreneur from the Lyon region without a criminal record claims to have seen nothing and remember nothing.

The last police custody, last January 2022, allowed “checks”, the investigations then continued “to identify the perpetrator or perpetrators of the crime”, according to the prosecution.