Brother of Alps shooting massacre victim arrested
THE brother of the Alps murders victim Saad Al-Hilli has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder the engineer and his family.
Zaid Al-Hilli (54) was arrested in an early-morning raid at his home in Surrey in the UK.
He was last night being interviewed about the case in which four people were shot dead in a clearing at Chevaline, near Annecy, France, last September.
Police have also, for the first time, been able to interview the Al-Hillis' two daughters, who survived the attack.
Zainab Al-Hilli (7), who was pistol-whipped and shot in the shoulder, told officers the family drove to the remote spot intending to go for a walk. There was "no one else there" when Mr Al-Hilli parked their BMW.
However, Eric Maillaud, the French prosecutor leading the inquiry, said she had a "mental block" about the attack.
He said: "The oldest girl has certainly seen plenty of things, but for the moment she is not able to tell us.
"She has a mental block surrounding the events, which is understandable given the traumatic events that she lived through."
Her sister Zeena, (4), who evaded the gunman by hiding under her mother's skirt in the back of the car, has not been able to add anything to the investigation.
Saad Al-Hilli (50), his wife Ikbal (47), her mother Suhalia Al-Allaf (74) and Sylvain Mollier (45) a French cyclist, were all shot twice in the head in the execution-style killings.
Zaid Al-Hilli was interviewed, but not arrested, by French police in March, when he is understood to have been asked about an alleged dispute with his brother over an inheritance.
Their Iraqi father Kadhim Al-Hilli died in Spain two years ago, leaving several properties and £800,000 (€941,000) in a Geneva bank account.
Saad hired lawyers to block Kadhim's will until "unknown" disputes had been resolved, according to legal papers.
A Swiss prosecutor claimed on Channel 4 television earlier this month that the brothers had been locked in an "inheritance war".
The French investigators are understood to have asked Zaid about allegations that he tried to withdraw cash from the Geneva account using an expired credit card shortly before the murders.
Saad (50) reportedly kept a Taser stun gun at his home. He changed the locks of his house before he went on holiday.
Earlier this month, Mr Maillaud said he had made a formal request for assistance to Romanian authorities to find out why Zaid made repeated phone calls to five numbers in the country.
Mr Maillaud said yesterday that, in France, Zaid would have been arrested at the very start of the case.
"This arrest is not as the result of any new evidence, but is because the British forces now think they have enough evidence to question him," he said.
It was likely that French police would travel to Surrey to speak to their British counterparts about the questioning of the suspect, he said.
Zaid has always insisted he is innocent and that he had a good relationship with his brother.
Other theories under investigation include the possibility that the cyclist Mr Mollier was the real target of the attack, and that alleged links between Kadhim Al-Hilli and Saddam Hussein could hold the key to the murders.
In March, a man was arrested in Switzerland on suspicion of supplying the Luger P08 gun used in the shootings but was later released. (© Daily Telegraph, London)