News24

France, UK form Alps murders probe team

2012-09-21 22:08

Grenoble - Police in France and Britain have formed a joint task force to ease bureaucratic hurdles in the investigation into the unexplained massacre of a British family in the Alps.

The task force, led by two investigating French magistrates, will be made up of British police officers and French gendarmes and operate in coordination with EU judicial agency Eurojust, French prosecutors and Eurojust said.

The team will operate "as if we were in a single country" and investigators from both nations will have "full access to the case as if there were no border", said Eric Maillaud, the prosecutor in the local town of Annecy.

Previously French investigators were running into difficulties working with Britain's Home Office and saw some legal requests rejected for being improperly formulated.

About 100 investigators are working full-time on the case and Maillaud admitted the probe is progressing slowly.

"It is an investigation that risks lasting an enormously long time. Often investigators have a theory in the first hours of an investigation. This time we have no idea," he said.

The mystery attack on 6 September near the village of Chevaline saw Saad al-Hilli, his wife Iqbal, her mother as well as Frenchman Sylvain Mollier, a passing cyclist, shot dead. The couple's two young daughters survived the attack.