Latest update: 05/10/2012
Police probe Swiss bank link to Alps murders
French police probing the shooting of a British-Iraqi family in the French Alps last month have launched a new appeal for witnesses and seized cash from a Swiss bank account linked to the murdered father, it was reported on Friday.
Swiss prosecutors have confirmed that a British man of Iraqi origin killed with three members of his family visited a bank in Geneva shortly before he was murdered, according to a Swiss news report.
Saad al-Hilli, 50, was shot dead in his car alongside his wife, mother and a passing cyclist in a forest car park near Chevaline, near Annecy in eastern France close to the Swiss border. His two daughters survived the attack.
Investigators have so far been at a loss to find a motive for the brutal execution-style killings that took place one month ago.
But the Tribune de Geneve newspaper on Friday reported that Hilli had visited Geneva, and said that prosecutors there believed his trip to the banking capital of Europe was “linked to the murders”.
Swiss broadcaster RTS also carried the report on Friday, saying that a bank account seized by Swiss authorities had belonged to Hilli’s father.
Investigators in the UK have looked into a possible falling-out between Hilli and his brother over an inheritance from their father, who died in Spain shortly before the murders.
French police, who believe the killer may have fled over the border into Switzerland, said on Friday that they were launching a fresh request for witnesses that they hope will lead to a breakthrough in the investigation.
“Everyone is working hard, but there has not been any miraculous discovery that could change the course of the investigation,” said Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud, who is heading up the case.
"We will be issuing a fresh appeal for witnesses on Saturday," he said. "There could be someone who saw something important that could help the inquiry progress, whether it was just seeing the family car drive past or other vehicles. Even if it is just a matter of allowing us to establish the exact movements of the family, it could help."
Despite an exhaustive search of Hilli’s Surrey home by UK and French police, no evidence has been found to shed light on the killings, which continue to baffle investigators.
Nevertheless, the French team still believes that something in the family’s background is the most likely explanation. Investigators have been building up a detailed profile of the assets of Saad al-Hilli's late father, following the suggestion made early in the inquiry that a disputed inheritance may have been linked to the murder.
That theory has been dismissed by Saad's brother Zaid, who has been interviewed several times on a voluntary basis by police in England.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)