Sep 7 2012
The brother of the Briton gunned down with his family in the French Alps has denied he was in dispute with the dead man over financial matters, investigators have revealed.
Prosecutor Eric Maillaud said Saad al-Hilli's brother had spoken to police this morning after reports of a feud emerged.
"He turned up again this morning and he said 'no, I don't have a conflict with my brother'," Mr Maillaud told reporters at a press conference in Annecy. He had first spoken to UK police on Thursday after learning of the massacre from media reports.
The prosecutor also revealed that Mr al-Saad's four-year-old daughter Zeena, who survived by hiding under her mother, had spoken to police about the attack, describing what Mr Maillaud said was the "fury" and "terror" of a massacre during which 25 bullets were fired at the victims.
Iraqi-born Mr al-Hilli, 50, was gunned down in his car alongside his dentist wife, named by neighbours as Iqbal, and a woman believed to be her mother. Mr al-Hilli and one of the women were shot in the head along with a French cyclist who apparently stumbled across the attack. The couple's children, Zeena and her sister Zainab, seven, are apparently the only witnesses to the shootings on an isolated road and are now under police protection.
Mr Maillaud said a French investigator had come to the UK to speak to Mr al-Hilli's brother. He also revealed that British police were now directly involved in the hunt for the killers. "It's a Franco-British investigation," he said.
Mr Maillaud said Zeena had told police she was with her mother and father when the attack happened but she did not see anything because she "dived under her mother's legs" when the shooting began.
Investigators are waiting for the green light from medical staff at Grenoble University Hospital to talk to Zainab as the motive behind the killings remained a mystery. Asked again whether he thought it was a professional killing, Mr Maillaud would only say: "They were people who certainly wanted to kill people and they were not scared of taking a life."
He refused to identify the weapon used, arguing that the police did not want to reveal everything they know to the killers. But he did tell reporters that 25 bullet cartridges had now been recovered from the scene. Earlier the police had only referred to 15.
French gendarmes lifted a road block nearly two miles away from where the murder took place. At the scene, a few pebbles spotted with blood, small shards of glass and tyre marks could be seen on the ground. At Le Solitaire du Lac campsite in Saint-Jorioz, a caravan thought to belong to the family was cordoned off and its windows taped up.