October saw quite a lot of planetary activity in the sign of Scorpio. This seemed to coincide with the re-opening of several high profile criminal cold cases, including that of Madeleine McCann, which I blogged about last month, along with some new developments in others.
One such case, which saw a resurgence in media interest last month as a result of the release of a new e-Fit of the suspected assailant, was that of the Al-Hilli’s, a family formerly from Iraq, who resettled in Britain in the 1980’s. Saad Al-Hilli, along with his wife, mother-in-law and children, were brutally attacked by what police think was a lone gunman whilst on holiday in France, an event which left all but the two children alive, if severely traumatised. Despite an extensive investigation by French police in co-operation with Interpol, no one has ever been arrested and charged with the multiple murders.
Given the recent press about new witness sightings and TV and newspaper interviews with Zaid Al-Hilli, Saad’s brother in connection with his possible involvement in the crimes, ostensibly because of a rumoured rift over money, I thought it might be a good moment to have a look at the event chart of the murder to see whether it holds any clues. According to news reports, the murders took place sometime after 3:30pm local time at a beauty spot near Chevaline, a small alpine town on the French-Swiss border.
A chart cast on the day of the murders for 15h40 local time has Sagittarius rising, making the chart ruler Jupiter. However, perhaps more significantly, Pluto in Capricorn is also in the 1st house. Pluto rules the cusp of the 11th house by its dominion over Scorpio, whose co-ruler is Mars. This suggests that powerful institutions (Pluto in Capricorn) and secret groups or associations (Scorpio on cusp of 11th) may play a significant role in what took place on this fateful September day.
In this particular delineation, Mars also happens to be in Scorpio, so is very strong, and is located in the 10th house, very close to the cusp of the 11th. We have seen elsewhere, such as the astrology of the death of Boris Borezovsky, that Mars can often signify the nature of the killer, given its traditional association with guns, knives, war and butchery. Placed in Scorpio, a sign associated with revenge, violence, ruthlessness and extreme views, it seems to describe a cold-hearted, clinical killer, possibly a mercenary or professional hitman, given Mars’ position in the 10th house of careers, suggesting that this person kills for a living and could well be ex-army or affiliated with some form of military or para-military group.
Although this sounds like one of those crackpot conspiracy theories, it is not altogether out of the question, as stated in the media by the French police. According to them, the shooter was obviously very experienced because, of the 21 bullets that were fired from the gun, 17 hit their target. There was also no damage to bodywork of the Al-Hilli’s car, even though it was moving (Saad tried to get away but the car got stuck on an embankment as he turned it, and he was then shot in the driver’s seat). Also, because of the type of gun that was used, the shooter had to reload the gun twice, something only an experienced shooter could do without making a mistake or letting people get away. Furthermore, the ‘double tap’ to the head ‘execution’ style of the shootings also seems to smack of someone carrying out a professional hit.
One of the three main theories about the motivation for the killing is that a state-sponsored agency or underground political movement might be involved, although this was quickly dismissed in favour of more personal theories involving family disputes over money. However, the astrology seems to suggest that it is not altogether out of the question.
But why would such organisations want to assassinate Saad Al-Hilli? Here we need to look a little closer at Jupiter, the chart’s ruler.
Jupiter, ruler of the AS, is in Gemini – the place of its detriment (being opposite the sign that it naturally rules) – a sign associated with communications of all kinds, including communications technology – and is in the 6th house of health, work, pets and everyday routines. Traditional astrologers felt that this house was not a terribly auspicious place. According to the Roman astrologer, Firmicus Maternus, for example, any astrologer should pray ‘that the chart you are working on does not have planets, either malefic or benefic, in the sixth or twelfth houses; or in the second or eighth. For these houses are always filled with hostile influences from all planets.’ (Mathesis, Book Six, I.6). In her book, The Houses: Temples of the Sky, Deborah Houlding writes that, ‘Generally, this is regarded as a house of weakness and affliction. As a cadent house, it represents alien or unhelpful conditions.’
The planet that rules the 6th house cusp is Mercury, which is exalted in Virgo and located in the 8th house, close to a conjunction with the Sun. This is rather interesting, for the 8th house was considered to be the house of death. Known to the Greeks as Epicataphora which means ‘falling down’ (usually into the underworld) in crimes of murder, it is considered to be the house of the victim/s. From the Sun-Mercury conjunction, we might infer that the primary target in this murder was Saad Al-Hilli, who is represented by the Sun in Virgo, on the cusp of the 9th house of foreign travel (the Al-Hilli’s were on a camping holiday to nearby Lake Annecy at the time). Although in the 9th house, this house is also ruled by Mercury, which together with the conjunction, seems to bind these two planets together.
Jupiter is also square to the Sun, which may be significant. Could it point to a work connection of some kind? Al-Hilli was a systems engineer who worked for a satellite company and some have speculated that because of his Middle Eastern background and technical know-how, he may have been approached by the criminal underworld or a state agency keen to involve him in industrial espionage. According to Eric Maillaud, spokesman for the French police,
“His [Saad Al-Hilli’s] company worked for many foreign states. Any mention of foreign countries and industrial espionage inevitably raises the possibility of the involvement of secret intelligence agencies.”  He adds that the former satellite communications engineer had recorded all of his telephone conversations in the months leading up to his death and that he “Al-Hilli had in his possession a lot more material than his job would justify.”
A recent BBC Panorama documentary dismissed this claim, saying that the material on Saad’s computer was not defence-related. They also interviewed a friend and colleague who asserts that Saad had no security clearance at all because he was a contractor brought in to solve ‘small problems’ and was too subordinate to be privy to any “classified” technical secrets. However, given the position of Pluto in the first house (secret agencies), and its rulership of the 11th, and the connection between the main victim, Saad Al-Hilli (represented by the Sun in Virgo in the 9th) and Jupiter in Gemini in the 6th (work in the communications field), perhaps this is not altogether as far-fetched as it may sound? In fact, according to other reports, Saad had worked as a contractor for a a number of different companies, including a nuclear research facility in Oxfordshire during the 1980’s, at which time a friend remembers him expressing rather passionate anti-Israeli views via forums and chatrooms. It is possible that he may well have been recruited at some time by an insurgent group or rogue state at this time, or at the very least,come to the attention of the authorities. (See: Ref 13)
Jupiter’s presence in the 6th has already brought our attention to the sixth house. This house was referred to by Latin astrologers as Mala Fortuna (bad fortune) and is the house where the minor malefic planet, Mars, is said to rejoice. One again, it seems we are being led back to Mars, not just because of its natural association with the 6th house, but because in this chart it seems to represent the killer. It seems clear that the killer was some kind of professional hitman.
So, if we put aside the notion of a foreign agency for a minute, who else might have hired a professional hitman to kill the Al-Hilli’s?
Here, Mars’ rulership of the IC (Aries is on the cusp of the 4th house) may provide a clue. The 4th house governs both the past, family ties and matters connected with the father. It is also the house of land, property and hidden wealth, as well as riches extracted from beneath the earth, such as gems, minerals and sources of energy like oil and coal. The connection of Mars to the 4th house could be interpreted in one of two ways. Either the answers to Saad Al-Hilli’s death lies in his family’s past connections to Iraq, or it has to do with his father’s legacy – the family fortune.
Rumours have swirled in the French and English press about possible associations between Saad’s father, Khadem Al-Hilli, and the regime of Saddam Hussein, with one article stating that:
“There have been reports that his late father, Khadem, was once close to Saddam’s Ba’ath Party but fell foul of the tyrant in the Seventies, and fled Iraq for Britain.
Alternatively, it has been suggested this was a smokescreen and that Khadem’s true role was to manage secret accounts for the regime.”
It is now known by the authorities that Khadem had left over £800,000 in a private Swiss bank account, which he opened in 1988 – one that a man from Salford was recently charged with attempting to defraud, although the case was later dropped. Noone is sure where this money came from. It may have been the proceeds of the sale of the family business in Iraq, (the family owned a gypsum factory and a poultry farm) or it could have had a more sinister origin? French Newspaper, Le Monde, has made claims that the German intelligence agency, BND, has traced a large deposit of nearly £840,000 to the Geneva bank account back to Saddam Hussein, although this has never been confirmed publicly.
So was he killed by some extremist group with links to the former Iraqi regime? Were they tapping him up for technical secrets or were they hoping to get their hands on the old regime’s secret funds? Let’s look at Pluto’s aspects to see if we can glean anything from the chart.
At the time of the murders, Pluto had just separated from a sextile to Mars. Clearly, there is a link between the killer and the powerful individual or shadowy group that Pluto represents. Prior to this, Pluto made a trine to Mercury, ruler of the 6th, 7th and 9th houses, which seems to suggest a foreign link (9th) as well as a connection to work or health (6th) and some kind of partnership (7th). As with the chart for Madeleine McCann’s disappearance, Gemini on the 7th house cusp hints at the involvement of at least two people in the murder – and if a recent press release from the French police is anything to go by, so do they. Speaking at a recent press briefing in Annecy, Mr Maillaud said that, thanks to new witness evidence which places a car with British plates in the area just before the murder, the ‘case looks more and more like an ambush’ and that more than one gunman was likely to have been involved.
The presence of Venus in the 7th house does make one wonder whether the second person was a woman. Venus’ rulership of the 5th house (lovers and children) and 10th houses (career, ambition) could hint at a Lady Macbeth-type character as the power behind the situation, but equally it could point to the two daughters who survived the killings. They could become the nemeses of the killer when they grow up, especially if they begin to remember more about what they witnessed, or if they decide to try and find out more about who killed their parents. We forget that the 7th can represent sworn enemies as well as close partnerships, and Venus’ rulership of the MC (Libra) may point to a later quest for justice if their parent’s killer is never found.
Of course, Pluto could also represent powerful friends or associates. And rather than a shadowy institution, Capricorn might symbolise someone powerful with a link to the father. While this could point to Iraqi political or family connections, it could equally suggest the involvement of a friend of Saad or the Al-Hilli family. Could someone have been threatening or blackmailing a member of the family, for instance? Here, we may need to consider the fact that Saad had made a visit to Iraq to try and recover a family property that had been taken over by squatters post the chaos of the Iraq war. He returned, badly beaten and shaken, obviously having been attacked by the squatters, but had told friends just before his death that ‘everything was sorted.’
Given Mars’ rulership of the IC, it is possible that the disputed property in Iraq may have been a reason for his killing. However, more importantly, we cannot rule out the possibility that Saad may have been killed by a member of his family. Both friends and the French police have claimed that the brothers may have been locked in a family feud over money and that Zaid Al-Hilli may have had his brother murdered by a hitman because he wanted to get his hands on the family fortune.
It may be significant that Lake Annecy, the scene of the crime, is only an hour’s drive to Geneva, and it is thought that Saad was planning to make a detour there the following Monday to see the bank. The French police also found all the proof that he had collected about his brother’s alleged fraud in his holiday caravan, papers that perhaps he intended to show to the Swiss authorities in the hopes of preventing his brother from gaining sole access to his late father’s accounts.
It emerged later that Saad had confided in a friend that Zaid had had him deliberately excluded from the deeds of a family-owned property in Spain and was going to try and steal his inheritance from him through a fraudulent will that Saad had found after going through his brother’s things at the family home in Claygate which they shared at one time. French police have corroborated this saying that they had found two copies of the father’s will when they searched the property, one of which left everything to Zaid; and another, which called for the father’s assets to be divided equally amongst his two children. Although he has denied that there was any kind of serious rift between them, friends say that the brothers had been estranged from each other in recent years and were engaged in a legal dispute over the family properties. In a further twist, it also emerged that the Swiss authorities had discovered that in the final year of Khadem Al-Hilli’s life (the brothers’ father), Zaid had attempted to obtain access to his father’s Swiss funds by fraudulently opening up a credit card and forging his father’s signature, which had been denied by the bank after performing some security checks . In addition, correspondence between Saad and a friend show that there had been serious altercations about money between the two brothers, and that the murder victim suspected that his brother had tried to steal from his father by various means, which is why after Zaid moved out of the family home, he had the locks changed and had a new alarm fitted.
The older Al-Hilli brother, an accountant, has already been arrested for conspiracy to murder his brother and been taken in for questioning twice but so far, no charges have been brought against him. He has been able to provide an alibi, proving he was in the UK at the time of the shooting, and no proof has emerged so far connecting him directly to the crime, so he remains a free man.
So, is there any hint in the astrology as to whether or not it was Zaid, and not some powerful secret institution, that might have killed his brother and his family?
Well, firstly, the Moon in Taurus happens to be in the 4th house of home and family. Furthermore, as ruler of Cancer, it also happens to rule the 8th house, which, aside from being the house of death, is also the house of legacies and shared assets. What’s more, the Sun in Virgo in the 9th happens to make aspects both to the Moon and Mars, which appears to hint at a family connection between Saad and his killer, which is reinforced by Mars’ rulership of the 4th house.
Furthermore, Mars is also separating from a trine to Chiron in Pisces in the 2nd house, which reinforces the idea of a financial motive to the killing. The unusual involvement of Chiron might hint further at some sort of financial difficulties, or at the gaping wound of the brothers’ rift over the family inheritance, which is said to have hurt Saad deeply.
But who or what, then, might Mercury represent? Given that Mercury is the sign of movement and transportation, perhaps it points to Sylvain Mollier, the unsuspecting bike rider who, it is thought, just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time – and being witness to a multiple murder, was killed to protect the perpetrator’s identity.
But, what of the fact that the Sun is, technically, in the 9th house, and that it is actually Mercury that is in the 8th? Does this lend weight to the theory that it was, in fact, Sylvain Mollier, and not Saad Al-Hilli, who was the intended victim of this crime? This is the argument being put forward by several camps, including Zaid Al-Hilli. This theory was fuelled further by news reports claiming that Mollier, a welder at a local factory that made components for the nuclear industry, was the first to die and that a leaked forensics report shows that he was shot five times – more than any other victim. Some have theorised that his wealthy soon-to-be father-in-law, the former owner of a local pharmacy, didn’t approve of his relationship with Claire, his daughter, a pharmacist who had just taken over the family business and had him killed. Speaking in an interview, Zaid Al-Hilli claimed that:
“Sylvain Mollier was involved in family disputes and was an outsider to [his] rich family. There is something more to it locally… most crime has local roots.” He remains convinced that ‘powerful local forces’ are at work to cover up what really happened and has stated that he has become the target of the investigation for ‘racist’ reasons.
However, these allegations have been refuted by the French police, who claim that there is no evidence to suggest a hit based on a local family feud involving Mollier and his future in-laws. Their explanation for the additional bullets is that Mollier probably took the gunman by surprise and he shot the biker several times to make sure that he left no witnesses. Although a professional hitman was initially suspected, the choice of gun, a Luger, considered to be a WWII relic, which is unreliable, requires manual reloading and is fairly easy to trace, as well as the spent shells left at the crime scene, may suggest otherwise.
More interesting is that fact that Mercury happens to be very close to an exact opposition with Chiron in the 2nd house and is in paran with fixed star, Thuban. Bernadette Brady’s Star & Planent Combinations describes Thuban, the alpha star in the constellation of Draco, in paran to Mercury as either signifying a link to professions that involve collecting, conserving or even guarding information, or as pointing to ‘national secrets, spies and security matters.’ Strangely, in Saad Al-Hilli’s natal chart, Thuban happens to be conjunct his natal Pluto…Sadly, however, because we do not have his exact time of birth, we cannot look at house placements.
The Mercury-Chiron link is interesting. Does it suggest a financial vulnerability that left one or both of the victims open to an approach from a foreign power such as Iran trying to buy materials for their nuclear programme as one newspaper suggests, or a secret agency trying to collect technology secrets? And, given the conjunction between the Sun and Mercury, could these two men have known each other?
Maillaud has expressed his suspicions about why Mollier was at this particular beauty spot on his racing bike, as the road leading there is full of potholes and not suitable for bikes with his thin tyres. So was he there for a secret assignation? The French police doubt it, saying they think he just got lost and so was there by mistake. However, he was not a holiday maker but local to the region, so this seems a little unlikely. Could there be more to his presence than meets the eye? And do the answers to this crime lie in the local region, as Zaid Al-Hilli has suggested?
Quite possibly, if the event chart is anything to go by. What gives this theory added weight is the square between Pluto and Uranus in Aries in the 3rd house. The presence of Uranus here could possibly point to a local connection since the 3rd house rules close relatives like siblings, neighbourhoods and local affairs, the 3rd house. Uranus in Aries points to someone who is a bit of a loner and a rebel, but who may also be potentially violent, so we are talking about an outsider of some kind, perhaps a black sheep or someone not native to the region who is a bit of an outcast. Uranus rules Aquarius, which is intercepted in the second house of money and property. Again, we seem to have a link to a financial motive or a dispute over property. Uranus is also quincunxed by both Mercury and Mars, linking Sylvain Mollier and the killer to this planet. All very bizarre, unless we really do consider the theory that both Sylvain and Saad were the intended targets and that they did possibly know each other and were working for a foreign power who may have been trying to obtain the technical know-how and raw materials to improve their weapons programme, as one former security analyst has suggested. But it does not explain the family/property connection, unless of course this is referring to Saad’s father’s links to the former ruling elite of Iraq and possibly the chicken farm and house still owned by the family in Baghdad.
The French prosecutor, Eric Maillaud, thinks that this investigation is unlikely to be solved anytime soon, and judging by the astrology, it looks as though he may be right.
 Houlding (2006) The Houses: Temples of the Sky, p. 75
 ‘Al-Hilli killings: One year on, mystery surrounds the quadruple murder in the Alps,’ The Independent, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/alhilli-killings-one-year-on-mystery-surrounds-the-quadruple-murder-in-the-alps-8801964.html
 ‘French Alps murders: Was victim Saad al-Hilli involved in shady work deal?’, The Mirror, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/french-alps-murders-saad-al-hilli-2256526#ixzz2l12H1wcW
 ‘Murder in the Alps,’ BBC Panorama, http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03fgstr/Panorama_Murder_in_the_Alps/
 ‘Iraqi intelligence asked to probe murder of British engineer in French Alps amid claims he was “beaten-up on business trip”’, The Daily Mail, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2244989/French-Alps-Shooting-Iraqi-intelligence-investigating-murder-British-engineer-family.html
 ‘Alps murders: French police issue sketch of motorcyclist,’ The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/04/alps-murders-french-police-photofit-motorcyclist;The Daily Mail, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2198777/French-Alps-shooting-Police-question-Saad-Al-Hillis-brother-Zaid-inheritance-row.html
 ‘Murder in the Alps,’ BBC Panorama, http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03fgstr/Panorama_Murder_in_the_Alps/
 ‘Alps murders: Family of French cyclist Sylvain Mollier speak out for first time,’ The Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/9653238/Alps-murders-Family-of-French-cyclist-Sylvain-Mollier-speak-out-for-first-time.html
‘Was Mossad behind the Alps murders?’, The Daily Mail, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217000/Alps-murders-Saad-al-Hilli-family-shot-dead-near-Chevaline-shortage-theories.html
 ‘Was Mossad behind the Alps murders?’, The Daily Mail, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217000/Alps-murders-Saad-al-Hilli-family-shot-dead-near-Chevaline-shortage-theories.html
- Al-Hilli Alps murders: police release sketch of motorcyclist (standard.co.uk)
- Brother claims Alps deaths cover-up (standard.co.uk)
- Witness in Al-Hilli Alps murders: I saw UK 4×4 car heading towards crime scene (standard.co.uk)