x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Brother held in UK over French murder

Police say killing of Iraqi-born victim and his family was linked to inheritance row.

LONDON // Police in Britain have arrested a man on suspicion of conspiracy to murder a British family of Iraqi origin in France last year, the French public prosecutor, Eric Maillaud, said yesterday.

Saad Al Hilli, an Iraqi-born British engineer, was found in September last year with his wife and mother-in-law in their car on a remote mountain road near the village of Chevaline in the French Alps. All three had been shot.

The body of a cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, was discovered nearby.

All four had been shot in what appeared to be execution-style murders, with at least two hits to the head from a semi-automatic pistol.

Mr Maillaud identified Saad Al Hilli's brother, Zaid, as the man arrested.

"Several lines of questioning closed over time," he said.

"The main theory today is linked to the family.

"There seems to have been a real desire on Zaid's part to recover his father's wealth, to Saad's detriment, by any means necessary, including illegally."

Mr Maillaud said there was no formal evidence but that police now had enough elements to question Zaid as a suspect.

Al Hilli's two daughters survived the attack, despite the gunman trying to kill the eldest - seven-year-old Zainab - by beating her around the head after running out of bullets.

Four-year-old Zeena was found alive hiding beneath the legs and skirt of her dead mother in the back seat of the car.

The brutality and unexplained nature of the killings led to prominent coverage of the case in British media.

Investigators have said previously they were looking at various theories, including robbery, a family feud, a possible link to Al Hilli's work in the aerospace industry or his Iraqi origins.