Al-Hilli massacre: French prosecutors set to request body of 'secret husband' of murder victim Iqbal al-Hilli is exhumed

James Thompson died of a suspected heart attack on the exact same day as his former wife

French prosecutors are set to make a request to exhume the body of the former husband of murdered British woman Iqbal al-Hilli, amid speculation that he could have been poisoned.

The two-year investigation into the murder of al-Hilli, 47, her husband 50-year-old British engineer Saad al-Hilli and her mother Suhalia al-Allaf,  74, who were shot near Lake Annency in France in 2012, has so far brought no clues for French prosecutors as to the identity of the murderer.

However, last week it emerged that Iqbal al-Hilli had a “secret” first husband who had died of a reported heart attack on the exact same day al-Hilli was murdered.

James Thompson, 60, wed Iqbal ‘Kelly’ Al-Hilli’s in 1999 in a marriage that had been reportedly set-up so al-Hilli could obtain a green card.

While the couple lived in the same house, the marriage was never consummated and after just over a year al-Hilli decided to leave the US because she was homesick and her dental qualifications would not allow her to practice in the state of Louisianna.

Yet, this information was not revealed to prosecutors until last week and now, as a result, French prosecutors are keen to exhume Thompson’s body and find out whether his death could be linked to al-Hilli’s murder.

French prosecutors had made one previous request to have the body exhumed but were refused on the grounds that there was not enough evidence to support the digging up of Thompson’s body.

James Thompson had been married to Iqbal al-Hilli between February 1999 to December 2000 James Thompson had been married to Iqbal al-Hilli between February 1999 to December 2000 However, now with the new revelations they feel that they have a good enough reason for American authorities to accept their request.

Eric Maillaud, the French prosecutor leading the al-Hilli investigation, told The Telegraph: “A request for exhumation and an autopsy was refused because there wasn’t a good enough reason in the eyes of the US authorities.

“Given the facts which are now circulating, investigators are looking to make a new demand to the FBI that will perhaps lead to an exhumation and autopsy; but what we will discover two years after the death we will have to see.”

Their case will be strengthened further by comments from Thompson’s sister and daughter, who have both recently alleged that their relative could have been poisoned.

Video: 2012 interview with witness

Last week, Thompson’s daughter, Joy Martinolich, 38, said she believed her father could have been killed by a poisoned dart and told The Daily Mail that she would support her father’s body being exhumed for further investigation.

This followed claims by Thompson’s sister, Judith Weartherly, that the FBI had contacted her saying that there was a possibility that her brother could have been poisoned.

She said: “The agent said the French found it very strange that they died within a few hours of each other. They said it was possible my brother might have been poisoned and asked if I had even considered having him exhumed. I said 'No! Let him rest in peace’.

She added: “I really believe he died of a heart attack. But some strange things did happen during his marriage to Kelly [Mrs al-Hilli]. I suppose it could be a possibility.”

Media gather at the site of the killings in Chevaline Media gather at the site of the killings in Chevaline

The attack which led to the death of al-Hilli her husband, her mother and passing cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, 45, also saw her two children Zainab and Zeena miraculously survive the ordeal.

Four-year-old Zeena was able to hide in one of the cars footwells, with seven-year-old Zainab surviving gunshot wounds to her shoulder.

So far two men have been arrested in connection with the murders.

Last year, Saad al-Hilli’s brother, Zaid Al-Hilli, 54, was taken in by police on suspicion of conspiracy to murder, but was released because of a lack of evidence.

In February this year, former policeman Eric Devouassoux, 48, was taken in by police after being linked with the murders; however, he was also released due to lack of evidence.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'