'We want to be with you forever': Tears of two girls orphaned in Alps shooting after they were 'kidnapped by social services staff who won't let them live with their surviving relatives' Survivors of gun slaying in French Alps want to live with auntBut Zainab, 7, and Zeena, 4, have been placed with a foster familyGreat-uncle says ordeal is making the tragedy worse for the orphans
10:48 GMT, 3 December 2012
The girls were left orphaned when their family, including father Saad Al-Hilli (pictured) were gunned down. Now friends and family say they are struggling to see and get information about the sisters
The two young survivors of the French Alps massacre have been ‘kidnapped by social services’, it was claimed yesterday.
Zainab al-Hilli, seven, and her sister Zeena, four, were orphaned when their parents were gunned down in their BMW on a holiday to Lake Annecy on September 5.
Their father Saad al-Hilli, 50, mother Ikbal, 47, and grandmother Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were killed alongside 45-year-old French cyclist Sylvain Mollier.
The murders have baffled police both in France and Britain, where the Al-Hillis had a 1million home in Surrey.
Relatives claim they want to care for the girls but they have been placed in foster care by Surrey County Council ‘against their will’.
Their great-uncle, Ahmed al-Saffar, said Zainab and Zeena had been upset when parting from their aunt Fadwa al-Saffar, their mother’s sister, after a brief recent visit. He was also at the meeting.
He said: ‘They were crying, asking “why are our meetings so short We want to be with you forever”. We were devastated by it.’
Mr al-Saffar, a Swedish-based pharmacologist in his sixties, fears the council’s approach to the girls’ welfare has compounded the tragedy they are striving to cope with.
He said: ‘They would like to be with their family. We see their suffering after the pain and loss of their parents and how this then continues in their separation from the one they love to be with, which is their auntie.’
He said he had no criticism of the girls’ white British foster family, describing them as ‘kind and supportive’. ‘But the situation is not satisfactory and it is getting more difficult.
He said the family wanted ‘answers to questions about the girls’ future’ but there had been no response to emails and inquiries.
Murder scene: Saad al-Hilli, his wife, Iqbal, and his mother-in-law were all killed in an isolated lay-by near Lake Annecy
Zainab was shot in the shoulder and suffered serious head injuries in an apparent ‘pistol whipping’ during the attack in France.
Zeena was found unharmed but
terrorised hours after the shooting. She had hidden beneath her mother’s
body in the rear seat well of the family car.
Another friend of the family told the Sunday Times that the girls had effectively been ‘kidnapped by social services’.
They have formed a private Facebook support group for the sisters, and the friends have said they are ready to adopt the girls. They say they want to offer them some sense of normality as they come to terms with the tragedy.
One friend of the family said he has complained about the situation to his Conservative MP, Zac Goldsmith, after becoming frustrated at a lack of response from social services to his attempts to pass messages and gifts to the sisters, the Sunday Times reported. Court orders obtained by Surrey county council protect the girls from publicity and ban publication of any details that might disclose their whereabouts.
Prayers: Saad Al-Hilli, 50, his wife Iqbal, 47, and her 74-year-old mother Suhaila Al-Allaf, was laid to rest in the same grave
Detectives have not made a single arrest since the horror in the mountains and remain baffled as to who was responsible. A British cyclist and former RAF officer was the first to arrive at the murder scene. He found the three adults dead in the car and a dazed and badly injured Zainab wandering nearby. Zeena was not discovered by police for another eight hours, hiding in the car.
Detectives have combed Mr al-Hilli’s finances, investigated his links to Iraq and examined claims of a family feud in their attempts to track down the killer.
The prosecutor leading the French police investigation, Eric Maillaud, has said that ‘all lines of inquiry remain open’.
He is sending a formal request for judicial assistance to Baghdad about the family’s background and whether there was anything in their past that may have made Mr al-Hilli a murder target.
Surrey County Council declined to comment.