LONDON (AP) — The brother of a British-Iraqi man shot to death with three other people last year in a remote area of the French Alps was arrested Monday after investigators gathered evidence that the siblings were fighting over their father’s inheritance.
Eric Maillaud, the prosecutor in the town of Annecy, identified the man arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder as Zaid al-Hilli. He said Monday’s arrest, which British police confirmed took place in Chessington on the outskirts of London, did not necessarily mean the killer was in custody.
However, Maillaud said there was strong evidence that a dispute over the father’s inheritance had boiled over and noted that Saad al-Hilli had multiple copies of two versions of the will: one that split the inheritance between the two brothers and one that left everything to Zaid. Maillaud said one of the copies was found in the camper in France.
“We’ve known for a long time that there was a conflict between the brothers,” he said.
Saad al-Hilli, his wife, an elderly relative and a cyclist were killed in the attack near Annecy last September but the couple’s two young daughters survived, including one who spent about eight hours huddled beneath her mother’s lifeless body before help arrived. Her older sister, then 7 years old, was shot in the shoulder and severely beaten.
All four people killed suffered two bullets to the head among other wounds. The bodies were discovered by a British cyclist passing by who alerted police. The young British sisters are the only known witnesses to the crime.
Police in Britain would not mention al-Hilli by name but did confirm that a 54-year-old man had been arrested. Authorities in Britain rarely identify suspects who haven’t been charged.
Maillaud said the two young witnesses had been questioned as recently as last week but had little to offer the investigation. He said Zaid al-Hilli was called in for questioning June 21 in France, but failed to show up.
Hinnant contributed from Paris.