POLICE investigating the murder of a British satellite engineer gunned down in the French Alps along with his wife and mother-in-law have released an image of a male motorcyclist they want to speak to.
Saad al-Hilli, 50, from Claygate, Surrey, his 47-year-old dentist wife Ikbal and her elderly mother Suhaila al-Allaf, who lived in Sweden, were murdered on a remote forest road near Lake Annecy in southern France on 5 September last year. French cyclist Sylvain Mollier was also killed.
Iraqi-born Mr Hilli’s eldest daughter Zainab was shot, beaten and left for dead, but survived. Her four-year-old sister Zeena lay hidden under her mother’s corpse and was only discovered eight hours after the murders.
The French Gendarmerie has released an artist’s impression of a motorcyclist it is trying to trace who was seen riding in the area between 3:15 and 3:40pm on the day in question, shortly before the four murders took place.
Detectives are appealing for anyone who might recognise the man in the image to come forward. He has been described by witnesses as wearing a black or dark helmet, with a lateral opening at chin level. The only similar helmet that is on the market is made by GPA and is an ISR model, French police said.
Mr Hilli’s 54-year-old brother, Zaid al-Hilli, from Chessington, south-west London, was arrested in June on suspicion of orchestrating the shootings to settle a family feud and has since been bailed until January. He has strenuously denied any involvement and accused the French authorities of ignoring details which might reveal that the intended target was the local cyclist found dead at the scene.
The widower has said he would be willing to take a lie detector test to prove his innocence.
Following the killings, speculation was rife about a dispute between the Hilli brothers over their inheritance. Zaid has admitted there were tensions over the £825,000 home where Saad and his family lived.
Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud said the man in the picture may be responsible for the murders, or a key witness.
“The motorcyclist who we are trying to find was seen by officials from the National Forestry Office a short time before the murders, and in the proximity of the car park where the murders took place,” he said.
“It is completely unknown who he is.
“His helmet is very particular and there are only a few thousand of these models worldwide. The lower part of the helmet opens laterally to reveal the lower face.”