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UK police arrest brother of victim in Alps murders

© AFP

Video by Katherine SPENCER

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-06-25

British police on Monday arrested the brother of an Iraqi-born man who was shot dead along with two members of his family and a French cyclist in the French Alps last September. Police are investigating a possible dispute over inheritance.

British police on Monday arrested the brother of an Iraqi-born man who was gunned down along with two members of his family and a French cyclist in a remote scenic area of the French Alps on September 5.

Police in Surrey in southeast England said they had arrested an unnamed 54-year-old man in connection with the murders in an early morning "pre-planned arrest" near where the family had lived.

"The 54-year-old man was detained at an address in Chessington, Surrey, at around 7:30am and is currently in police custody, where he will be interviewed," Surrey police said.

French investigators confirmed that Zaid al-Hilli, 54, whose brother Saad was gunned down along with his wife Iqbal and her mother Suhaila al-Allaf near the eastern French town of Annecy, was being held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.

He is the first person to be arrested in connection with the case, which has stumped investigators for months.

"We felt there were enough reasons to take him into custody," Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud told AFP after the arrest.

Questioned over inheritance

Zaid was questioned by French authorities in March. It was reported at the time that he was asked about a disputed inheritance.

The brothers’ father Kadhim, who died in Spain in 2011, left properties and around €1 million in a Swiss bank account.

Saad had instructed lawyers to block the execution of the will until unspecified “disputes” had been resolved, according to published legal reports.

French investigators had already questioned Zaid on allegations that he tried to withdraw cash from the Swiss account shortly before the murders.

"We need to ask him questions about his schedule, his relationship with his brother and the family inheritance," Maillaud said Monday.

Saad’s daughters – Zeena, 4, and Zainab, 7 – survived the shooting. The youngest remained huddled next to her dead mother for hours until police arrived at the scene, near the French border with Switzerland.

French cyclist Sylvain Mollier was also killed, although police say they believe his death was not connected to the al-Hilli family and that he simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Earlier this month Maillaud revealed that police were looking into telephone calls to Romania made from Zaid's phone.

Maillaud said Romanian authorities had been asked to help establish who he was calling, but stressed that any potential link to Romania was not being treated as a major new lead.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)
 

Date created : 2013-06-24

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