Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Alps victim's brother denies claims of feud

The caravan and tent used by Saad al-Hilli and his family while on holiday at the Le Solitaire du Lac campsite on Lake Annecy in the Haute-Savoie region of south-eastern France.
The caravan and tent used by Saad al-Hilli and his family while on holiday at the Le Solitaire du Lac campsite on Lake Annecy in the Haute-Savoie region of south-eastern France.
Forensic officers outside the home of the French shooting victim in Claygate, Surrey
The property in Surrey is being searched in a bid for clues in the probe into the shootings
The caravan and tent used by Saad al-Hilli and his family while on holiday at the Le Solitaire du Lac campsite on Lake Annecy in the Haute-Savoie region of south-eastern France.
Police tape seals the caravan and tent used by Saad al-Hilli and his family while on holiday at the Le Solitaire du Lac campsite on Lake Annecy in the Haute-Savoie region of south-eastern France. Mr Al Hilli, his wife Iqbal and his mother-in-law were found murdered in their BMW car near the village of Chevaline on Wednesday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday September 4, 2012. One of his daughters was injured and a second lay undetected and uninjured for hours in the back of the vehicle. A French cyclist was also killed in the attack possibly killed after discovering the crime in progress. See PA story POLIDE Alps. Photo credit should read: Chris Ison/PA Wire
A gendarme blocks access to the site where four people were shot dead near Chevaline in the French Alps (AP)
CLAYGATE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Journalists gather at a house believed to be owned by a British family murdered in a shooting in the French Alps France on September 6, 2012 in Claygate, England. French police are investigating a multiple murder after the bodies of three members of a British family were found in a bullet-riddled car in the French resort of Annecy. A 4-year-old girl, who had remained hidden for hours, was also found alive after investigators eventually entered the car. Local news agencies have named the male victim as Saad al-Hilli. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
Cameras are seen in front of Gendarmes who blocks access to a site where people were shot to death near Chevaline, French Alps, Thursday Sept. 6, 2012. A 4-year-old British girl hid for eight hours beneath the bodies of slain family members in the back of their car before she was discovered by French investigators who had been guarding the vehicle, a prosecutor said Thursday. Three people - a man and two women - had been shot to death, as was a French cyclist whose body was found nearby
Gendarmes guard the camp where the British family were holidaying at Saint Jorioz, near Annecy (AP)
A general view of Annecy in the Haute-Savoie region of south-eastern France near where the bodies of four people were found, three family members in their car and another cyclist who also suffered gunshot wounds and was found lying close to the vehicle. A four-year-old British girl was found alive underneath the bodies of her parents around eight hours after a brutal massacre in the Alps, French authorities said today
A car drives through the entrance of the campground where the British family were holidaying in Saint Jorioz, near Annecy (AP)
A general view of Annecy in the Haute-Savoie region of south-eastern France near where the bodies of four people were found, three family members in their car and another cyclist who also suffered gunshot wounds and was found lying close to the vehicle. A four-year-old British girl was found alive underneath the bodies of her parents around eight hours after a brutal massacre in the Alps, French authorities said today
A general view of Annecy in the Haute-Savoie region of south-eastern France near where the bodies of four people were found, three family members in their car and another cyclist who also suffered gunshot wounds and was found lying close to the vehicle. A four-year-old British girl was found alive underneath the bodies of her parents around eight hours after a brutal massacre in the Alps, French authorities said today
A gendarme blocks access to site where people were shot to death near Chevaline, French Alps, Thursday Sept. 6, 2012. A 4-year-old British girl hid for eight hours beneath the bodies of slain family members in the back of their car before she was discovered by French investigators who had been guarding the vehicle, a prosecutor said Thursday. Three people - a man and two women - had been shot to death, as was a French cyclist whose body was found nearby. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
Gendarmes block access to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps. An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo / Alexis Moro)
Gendarmerie Col. FranÁois, left, and Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud answer reporter near a killing site, near Chevaline, French Alps
A Gendarme's car heads to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday Sept.5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps. An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo/Alexis Moro)
Gendarmes block access to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps. An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo/Alexis Moro)
Gendarmes block access to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps.An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo/Alexis Moro)
Gendarmes block access to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps. An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo / Alexis Moro)
Gendarmes block access to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps.An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo/Alexis Moro)
A road sign is seen while a Gendarme blocks access to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps. An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo/Alexis Moro)
Gendarmes block access to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps.An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo/Alexis Moro)

The brother of the engineer murdered with three members of his family during a holiday in France has dismissed suggestions of a family feud and has told investigators he had no part in their violent deaths.

French police were heading to England last night to speak to Zaid al-Hilli (53) after receiving information from Surrey police about an apparent dispute between the two brothers over a multi-million pound inheritance following their father's death.

Iraqi-born Saad al-Hilli (50) was gunned down in his car alongside his dentist wife Ikbal, and another woman, aged 75, believed to be her mother.

They were shot at least three times in the attack on their car off a peaceful forest track. A French cyclist, believed to have witnessed the shooting, was also killed.

Investigators have spoken to the couple's four-year-old |daughter Zeena — who was unharmed in the attack — and hope to speak to their other daughter, Zainab, who is in an induced coma in hospital.

Investigators are hoping the seven-year-old will provide the key to solving the killings.

The children are apparently the only witnesses to the shootings on an isolated French Alpine road and are under police protection.

Investigators are waiting for the green light from medical staff at Grenoble University Hospital to talk to Zainab as the motive behind the killings remained a mystery.

Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud said detectives hope the youngster, who is in a stable condition, will recover sufficiently from the trauma to speak to them and that her memory was not damaged.

“We are waiting for the ballistic team's report and, when possible, a hearing with the eldest girl,” said Mr Maillaud.

Zainab was beaten repeatedly around the head and shot in the shoulder in the attack on the Surrey family, which took place on Wednesday.

Her younger sister was found alive in the BMW estate underneath the bodies of her relatives around eight hours after the massacre.

A passing French cyclist, Sylvain Mollier (45) was shot dead.

Mr Maillaud said he did not expect the four-year-old to be able to help police.

“She is a little girl who was hidden.

“It's not her who will help us progress the inquiry.”

Police have revealed there were signs of a vehicle braking at the scene but no weapon had been found and no arrests had been

made. It was also unclear if the shootings were carried out by one killer or a number of people.

One theory is that shots could have been fired during a bungled armed robbery.

Mr Mollier may have been a witness to the crime.

But speculation about other possible motives, including a pre-planned attack by professional hitmen, remained rife.

Mr Maillaud said British police had reported that the girls' father was in dispute with his brother over money.

He said: “It's an important piece of information that we will investigate.”

He added: “But all other lines remain open.”

Profile

Saad al-Hilli and his family lived in affluent commuter-belt Surrey, a far cry from his Iraqi roots. The mechanical engineer (50) is believed to have come to the UK in the 1970s, eventually settling in Claygate. He and his dentist wife Iqbal, who worked at a local surgery, were described as a lovely couple, whose children went to a local school.

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