Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Alps deaths case brother rebailed

The brother of a British satellite engineer gunned down in the French Alps along with his wife and mother-in-law has been rebailed by police.

Saad al-Hilli, 50, from Claygate, Surrey, his 47-year-old dentist wife Ikbal and her elderly mother Suhaila al-Allaf were blasted to death on a remote forest road in Chevaline on September 5, 2012. French cyclist Sylvain Mollier was also killed.

Iraqi-born Mr al-Hilli's eldest daughter Zainab was shot, beaten and left for dead but survived. Her four-year-old sister Zeena lay hidden under her mother's corpse and was only discovered eight hours after the murders.

Mr al-Hilli's 54-year-old brother, Zaid al-Hilli, was arrested in June on suspicion of orchestrating the shootings to settle a family feud. He was bailed until tomorrow by Surrey Police who have now rebailed him until January.

A Surrey Police spokesman said: " A man arrested by detectives investigating the deaths of four people near Annecy, southern France in September last year has been re-bailed until January 15 pending further inquiries.

"The 54-year-old man, from Chessington, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder on June 24 and interviewed as part of the on-going investigation."

The spokesman added: "Officers from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team are continuing to work closely with the French authorities to progress a number of lines of inquiry under the terms of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), although this remains a French-led investigation."

Mr al-Hilli has strenuously denied any involvement and accused the French authorities of ignoring details which might reveal that the intended target was the local cyclist also found dead at the scene.

"They are covering up for someone in France in that region and they know it," he told a BBC Panorama programme examining the killings.

"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."

Investigators have repeatedly stated that they believe Mr Mollier was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was shot dead on September 5 2012.

Mr al-Hilli, a father of one who works as a payroll manager and lives in Chessington, south-west London, also claimed that he has refused to go to France to meet Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud because he did not trust the French.

"My brother was killed there in that region and I am not going to take the risk," he told the Sunday Times.

The widower also said he was willing to take a lie-detector test to prove his innocence.

Following the killings, speculation was rife about a dispute between the al-Hilli brothers over their inheritance.

Zaid has admitted there were tensions over the £825,000 home in Claygate, Surrey, where Saad and his family lived.

The older brother was left his mother's 50% stake in the property after she died from a heart attack in 2003 and claims Saad began demanding that share of the property in 2011.

After his brother allegedly pinned him to a bed, the two did not speak again except through lawyers.

He claims that in 2011 the matter drove a wedge between them when his brother began to demand that share of the property "there and then" and pinned him down during a row in October that year.

The two men never spoke again except through lawyers, but Mr al-Hilli has denied claims that he had threatened to kill his brother.

The Panorama programme also showed an interview with an anonymous French forestry worker who claimed he saw a 4x4 vehicle with UK number plates heading towards the crime scene around the time of the killings as well as a man on a motorbike in the lay-by near Lake Annecy.

French police had previously played down reports that they were looking for a black Mitsubishi Pajero 4x4 with British number plates in relation to the shootings.


From Belfast Telegraph