Skip to main content

UK police drop case against brother in French Alps deaths

By Laura Smith-Spark and Kirsten Dewar, CNN
updated 8:56 AM EST, Wed January 15, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • UK police drop the case against Zaid al-Hilli, citing insufficient evidence
  • Zaid al-Hilli was arrested in June on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder
  • His brother was shot along with his wife, mother-in-law and a cyclist in a mysterious attack
  • French prosecutor says the French-led investigation into the killings continues

(CNN) -- UK police dropped their case Wednesday against the brother of a British-Iraqi man who was killed with his wife, mother-in-law and a French cyclist in a mysterious attack in the foothills of the French Alps.

The bodies of Saad al-Hilli, his wife Ikbal and her mother, Suhaila al-Allaf, were found in a car in a secluded parking lot on the outskirts of Chevaline, an Alpine village near the picturesque Lake Annecy, in September 2012. French cyclist Sylvain Mollet was found shot dead close by.

The couple's two young daughters survived the attack, although one was beaten and shot. The other hid for hours behind her dead mother's skirts and was unharmed.

Saad's brother Zaid al-Hilli, who lives in the county of Surrey, southwest of London, was arrested in June last year on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.

Girl found alive among bodies in France

He was later released on bail, but Surrey Police said Wednesday that the 54-year-old's bail had been canceled since he could not be charged.

"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," the force said in a statement.

The French-led investigation into the murders continues, Surrey Police said, adding that British officers had carried out "exhaustive" inquiries in the United Kingdom as part of the joint probe.

Annecy Prosecutor Eric Maillaud told CNN the French investigators agreed with their British counterparts that there was not enough evidence to pursue the case against Zaid al-Hilli.

Nonetheless, he "remains one of the main suspects in the case," Maillaud said. Investigators suspected that financial issues between the two brothers might have been a motive.

The team continues to work on the case, Maillaud said.

"There are still important leads in Iraq but we cannot go out and work there so it's on standby," he said. "The other one is industrial espionage with state participation and that is still under investigation."

Born in Baghdad in 1962, Saad al-Hilli was a naturalized British citizen who had lived in the United Kingdom for decades.

He was an engineer working at Surrey Satellite Technology, a high-tech company owned by EADS, an aerospace corporation that builds satellites.

The family lived in the well-heeled town of Claygate, in Surrey, but was vacationing in France. Ikbal's mother lived in Sweden.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT