• France's news in English

Suspect in Alps murders to face no charges

The Local/AFP · 15 Jan 2014, 11:34

Published: 15 Jan 2014 11:34 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The brother of Saad al-Hilli, a British-Iraqi man mysteriously gunned down with his family in the French Alps in 2012, was released from bail on Wednesday and no further action will be taken against him, British police said.

Zaid al-Hilli, who was arrested in June last year on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder, had his bail cancelled because there is not enough evidence to charge him, Surrey Police said in a statement.

"There is insufficient evidence to charge him with any criminal offence and no further police action is being taken at this time," the statement said.

Saad was mysteriously killed along with his wife and her mother in their car on a country road near the idyllic Lake Annecy in September 2012. A French cyclist Sylvain Mollier was also gunned down. The al-Hilli's two daughters Zeena and Zainab survived the attack.

Last year, Zaid al-Hilli, who was considered the chief suspect in the murder probe, admitted he and his brother had been involved in a bitter dispute over inheritance but insisted he was innocent of orchestrating the murders.

Zaid al-Hilli listened Wednesday as a police officer read out the statement to media waiting outside the police station in the Surrey town of Guildford, southwest of London.

"This remains a French-led investigation and officers from the Surrey and Sussex major crime team continue to work closely with the French authorities," the statement said.

"We have carried out exhaustive enquiries in the UK on a number of active lines of enquiry."

Al-Hilli himself did not comment after the police press briefing.

The 54-year-old, Zaid, has accused French police of failing to properly investigate the possibility that the real target was French cyclist Mollier.

"They are covering up for someone in France in that region and they know it," Hilli, who is due to answer police bail on Wednesday, told the BBC.

"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."

French investigators believe Mollier was an innocent bystander who was killed because he stumbled upon the murder scene.

Their lead theory is that a family inheritance dispute was the motive for the killings.

Zaid al-Hilli told the Sunday Times that the last time the brothers spoke, Saad had physically attacked him as they argued over the house in Claygate, a leafy suburb of London, which they had inherited from their mother.

"I was on the bed in my bedroom and he pinned me down," he said.

Zaid, who works as a payroll manager for a leisure company, said he had given 25 hours of interviews to British police but has refused to go to France for further questioning.

"The French, I don't trust them at all," he told the Times.

Story continues below…

"My brother was killed there in that region and I am not going to take the risk."

In an interview with The Local earlier this year, Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud admitted their manhunt may never track down the murderers, but it was still too early to know.

“Of course it is possible we will never find them, but it’s too early to conclude that,” Maillaud said, back in March. “The investigation is only six months old, which in terms of police inquiries is a very short period of time.”

“It’s out of the question that we will be thinking like that now.”

Maillaud said there were still around 40 French investigators working on the case, who regularly make trips across the Channel to liaise with their British counterparts in Surrey.

Police believe French cyclist Mollier was not a target and simply the victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French claims that Jungle camp is empty are rubbished
Photo: AFP

Reports from the scene say scores of migrants are still in the area of the Jungle despite French authorities claiming "mission fulfilled."

Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel has been found alive after being kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr

... and it's tenants in the smaller apartments that get hit the hardest. Could you be paying too much?

France takes baby steps to make life simpler
Photo: AFP

... including extending the ridiculously short time limit for registering a new baby.

IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President François Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available