THE brother of a British-Iraqi businessman, who was brutally gunned down with his wife and mother-in-law in the French Alps, has once again protested his innocence and has accused French police of a cover-up.
Zaid al-Hilli, from Surrey, whose brother was killed in a shooting on a remote forest road in Chevaline near Lake Annecy in September 2012, remains on bail following his arrest on suspicion of murder.
Zaid denied arranging the killings of Saad al-Hilli and his wife Iqbal, from Claygate, her mother Suhaila al-Allaf and a French cyclist Sylvain Mollier.
He also denied the claim, made by a French prosecutor, that there was a serious feud between him and his brother and said the suggestion he had arranged the killings was "ridiculous".
In his first interview, Zaid admitted to the Sunday Times that he was involved in a 'bitter' dispute over the ownership of a £725,000 house in Claygate, Surrey, left to them by their mother.
He said he and his brother had not spoken since an argument in November 2011 but that despite only communicating via lawyers they had remained close.
"Our relationship was very brotherly and very close, and we looked after each other," he said.
Zaid refused to answer questions regarding his father's will on the grounds that police in the UK are investigating him for possible fraud.
The 54-year-old, who was arrested in June, denied any involvement in masterminding the killings and said he had told police he was an "open book" and has "nothing to hide".
Zaid also levelled allegations that the French police had failed to carry out a proper investigation.
He suggested that police should look at the possibility that Sylvain Mollier, a passing cyclist who was also shot dead in the incident, was the real target of the killers.
"They are covering up for someone in France in that region and they know it," he said.
"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."
The bodies of Saad al Hilli, 50, and his wife and her mother were found in a bullet-ridden BMW car parked in a lay-by on a mountain road on September 5th 2012.
The couple's daughter, Zainab, seven at the time, recovered after being shot and beaten and her sister Zeena, who was four at the time, was found unhurt hiding beneath her mother's body.
French police continue to maintain that the passing cyclist Mr Mollier was killed by the gunman as he had stumbled on the murder scene.
French prosecutor, Eric Maillaud, told the BBC: "The police have investigated Sylvain Mollier's family as far as they could. There is nothing to link Mollier to this murder," he said.
- Rob Williams, Independent.co.uk