Brother of Brit killed in Alps shooting with his family questioned

French inspectors had wanted to speak to Zaid Al-Hilli for months

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The Independent Online

French police have for the first time questioned at length the brother of a British engineer murdered in the Alps with two members of his family.

The questioning pertains to the apparent murder of Saad Al-Hilli, his wife Ikbal, 47, and her mother Suhalia, 74. They were all found dead in a car near Lake Annecy, eastern France, in September last year.

The couple's daughters survived the attack, though seven-year-old Zainab was left in a coma by a beating and four-year-old Zeena survived by hiding under her mother's corpse for eight hours.

Both girls are now in the care of social services.

Sylvain Mollier, a 45-year-old French cyclist, also died in the attack.

And today The Daily Telegraph reported that Zaid-Al Hilli, 53, was interviewed by detectives on Friday near his home in Chessington, Surrey.

He is alleged to have been involved in a dispute with Saad over family inheritance.

He has protested his innocence, and said he had a good relationship with his brother.

Their father, Kadhim, died two years ago in Spain. He left numerous properties and cash, including the equivalent of £800,000, in a bank account in Geneva, less than an hour’s driver from the murder scene.

Saad put a legal block on his father’s will, effectively preventing Zaid from inheriting his share until ‘unknown' disputes had been resolved, according to published legal documents.

French detectives wanted to question Zaid over claims that he tried to use an expired credit card to withdraw cash from the Geneva account shortly before the killings.

Eric Maillaud, the Annecy prosecutor who is leading the investigation, had wanted to speak to Mr Al-Hilli for some time.

According to a French police source, Zaid was asked about his "whereabouts on the day of the tragedy."

Surrey police, who have released little information about the enquiry, confirmed that Zaid had been contacted.

But they refused to provide any details about last week’s questioning of Zaid, which was today being widely reported in the French media.

A Surrey Police spokesman said: “We have regular contact with him as the next of kin of one of the victims. There is nothing more than that. He has never been arrested or considered a suspect.”

During the investigation it emerged that Saad kept a Taser stun gun protection weapon at his home in Claygate, Surrey, and had also changed the locks of the 1 million pounds property.