Alps murders: No further action against Zaid al-Hilli

Zaid al-Hilli Zaid al-Hilli was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder

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A man held in connection with the murders of four people, including his brother, in the French Alps has been freed from bail.

Surrey Police said there was not enough evidence to charge Zaid al-Hilli, 54, from Chessington.

French Police, however, said Mr al-Hilli was still their main suspect.

His brother Saad al-Hilli, 50, was shot with his wife Iqbal, 47, his mother-in-law Suhaila al-Allaf and French cyclist Sylvain Mollier on 5 September 2012.

Saad al-Hilli Saad al-Hilli and his family were on holiday when they were attacked

Daughters Zainab, seven, and Zeena, four, survived the attack near Annecy.

Zaid al-Hilli was arrested on 24 June on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.

A Surrey Police spokesman said: "At this stage there is insufficient evidence to charge him with any criminal offence and no further police action is being taken at this time.

"This remains a French-led investigation and officers from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team continue to work closely with the French authorities."

Analysis

From the beginning of this investigation the French prosecutor Eric Maillaud has told the BBC he firmly believes the answers to the Annecy murders lie in Britain.

No question the French are disappointed that Zaid al-Hilli's bail has been cancelled. He remains a suspect here in France - the French police have said today they will continue to pursue him.

I understand that in terms of coming up with more than just a motive - the idea there was this row between the two brothers over their father's inheritance - their search for meaningful evidence continues to come up short.

They had no significant response to a photo-fit of a motorcyclist spotted near the scene in Chevaline at the time of the murder.

I also understand from police sources here the investigation is being scaled back.

'Cover up'

Speaking outside his home, Mr al-Hilli said he felt: "Really just relieved, that is all."

The bodies of the couple, from Claygate, Surrey, Ms al-Allaf and Mr Mollier were found on a remote forest road in Chevaline near Lake Annecy.

The two young girls survived the attack, one by hiding under her dead mother's skirt.

The family were on holiday by Lake Annecy when they were attacked.

Zaid al-Hilli was arrested amid claims he doctored documents to ensure he inherited the family estate following the death of his father.

He denied arranging the killings and said the accusations were "ridiculous".

He accused French police of "covering up" the real target of the killings and also offered to take a lie-detector test.

The al-Hilli brothers were said to have been locked in an inheritance dispute centred on the £825,000 home in Claygate where Saad and his family lived after their mother died from a heart attack in 2003.

Lake Annecy shootings

  • The shootings took place in a forest car park
  • Saad al-Hilli was an Iraqi-born British citizen. His wife held an Iraqi passport and her mother was a Swedish national
  • Cyclist Sylvain Mollier was a 45-year-old father of three who worked in the area
  • Several witnesses saw a car speeding away from the scene
  • Police were instructed not to disturb the bodies - which was why the al-Hillis' daughter Zeena was not found for eight hours

Zaid, who inherited half the property, claimed that in 2011 his brother began to demand his share of the house "there and then" and pinned him down during a row.

The two men never spoke again, except through lawyers.

In November, French investigators said they were looking for a mystery motorcyclist who was seen near the crime scene.

One lead in tracing the man was that he was wearing an unusual helmet, only a few thousand of which had been made.

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