French police accused of 'cover-up' in Alps murders
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The brother of a British-Iraqi man who was shot dead in the Alps along with his family last year accused French police of a cover-up in his first media interviews Sunday. Zaid al-Hilli was arrested in June on suspicion of orchestrating the murders.
The brother of a British-Iraqi national who was shot and killed along with his family in the French Alps last year has accused French authorities of "covering up" for a local suspect while protesting his own innocence in his first interviews with the media on Sunday.
Zaid al-Hilli, whose brother Saad was killed along with his wife and her mother in the French Alps in September 2012, told the BBC and The Sunday Times newspaper that the brothers were engaged in a bitter inheritance dispute – but insisted that he did not orchestrate the murders.
Zaid, 54, remains free on bail following his arrest in June on suspicion of masterminding the killings. He has accused French police of failing to investigate the possibility that the real target was Sylvain Mollier, a French national who was also found shot dead near the Hilli’s family's car in the hills above Lake Annecy.
"They are covering up for someone in France in that region and they know it," Zaid told the BBC.
"Mollier was involved in family disputes and was an outsider to [his] rich family. There is something more to it locally... most crime has local roots," Zaid said.
But French investigators have said they are “99.9 percent” sure that Mollier was an innocent bystander who was killed only because he stumbled upon the murder scene while he was out cycling and became a witness.
"Investigators are 99.9 percent convinced that there is nothing more to scratch at with Sylvain Mollier," Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud told AFP earlier this month.
Maillaud’s comments followed French media reports that Mollier was a notorious playboy who may have angered his romantic rivals.
"The slightest gossip was dug in to, exploited, verified,” Maillaud said. “There is nothing to support this possibility after dozens and dozens of interviews.”
The French investigators’ main working theory remains that a dispute over a family inheritance was the motive for the killings.
‘I don’t trust the French’
Zaid told The Sunday Times that the last time the brothers spoke, Saad had physically attacked him as they argued over a house in Claygate, a leafy suburb of London, which they had inherited from their mother.
"I was on the bed in my bedroom and he (Saad) pinned me down," he said.
Zaid, who works as a payroll manager for a leisure company, said he had given 25 hours of interviews to British police but has refused to go to France for further questioning.
"The French, I don't trust them at all," he told the Times. "My brother was killed there in that region and I am not going to take the risk."
He said he had taken a day off work on the day of the murders and gone to the English seaside resort of Worthing with a friend. He also said he has been taking anti-depressants since the killings and has buried himself in work to deal with his grief.
Zaid said the brothers, who were born to middle-class parents in Baghdad before the family moved to Britain in 1971, had enjoyed a close relationship despite coming to blows over the house.
He also said that he did not think the motivation for the killings lay in the family's Iraqi connections.
"That's all in the past," he told The Sunday Times.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
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