Claygate; Charges Dropped Against Zaid al-Hilli
The Surrey brother of a British engineer who was shot dead in the Alps said he is "relieved'' to be released from police bail over the killing, although French investigators insisted they still have "many questions'' to ask him.
Zaid al-Hilli, who was accused of orchestrating the shooting of his brother Saad al-Hilli and his wife and mother-in-law, has had his bail cancelled by Surrey Police because there is not enough evidence to charge him with a crime.
Speaking outside his home in Chessington, Surrey, the 54-year-old said he felt: "Really just relieved, that is all.''
Saad al-Hilli and his wife Ikbal, who were from Claygate in Surrey, and her mother Suhaila al-Allaf, who lived in Sweden, were all fatally shot on a remote forest road in Chevaline near Annecy on September 5, 2012. Local cyclist Sylvain Mollier was also murdered.
Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud said: "There are still many questions to ask him. Zaid al-Hilli remains an area of the inquiry.''
The lack of answers over the deaths has led to speculation over whether they were linked to the al-Hillis' native Iraq, or Saad al-Hilli's work as a satellite engineer.
Mr Maillaud said that police in France are still looking for a motorcyclist who was seen riding in the area between 3.15pm and 3.40pm shortly before the four murders took place, and a BMW 4x4 also seen there.
Asked whether there were any new leads in the investigation, Mr Maillaud said: "Neither more nor less than before, whether it be Iraq, whether it be industrial espionage. The investigation is under way, there is no new element in particular at this stage.
"We are still looking for the motorcycle and the BMW and the two drivers, for the moment we haven't found them. We still have quite a big team working on it. There are around 20 investigators working on the case in France.''
Surrey Police did not name Mr al-Hilli, but said in a statement on Wednesday that a man arrested in September 2012 over the deaths, and the murder of a French cyclist, would face no further police action at this time.
The force said: "A man arrested by detectives investigating the deaths of four people near Annecy, southern France, in September 2012 has today had his bail cancelled.
"The 54-year-old man, from Chessington, was arrested on 24 June 2013 on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder and interviewed as part of the ongoing investigation.
"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 horrific murder scene was discovered by cyclist Brett Martin, who found Iraqi-born Mr al-Hilli, 50, his 47-year-old dentist wife and her elderly mother blasted to death in their BMW.
The al-Hillis' first-born daughter Zainab was shot in the shoulder and beaten, but survived. Her then four-year-old sister Zeena lay hidden under her mother's body and was only discovered eight hours after the murders.
In October, Zaid al-Hilli publicly protested his innocence and offered to take a lie-detector test to verify his own account.
Speaking to the BBC's Panorama programme, he accused French investigators of a cover-up.
He said: ''They are covering up for someone in France in that region and they know it. Sylvain 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.''
The following month French investigators said they were still looking for the mystery motorcyclist who was seen near the crime scene.
One lead in tracing the rider was that they were wearing an unusual helmet, only a few thousand of which had been made.
The al-Hilli brothers were alleged to have been locked in an inheritance dispute centred on the #825,000 home in Claygate where Saad and his family lived after their mother died from a heart attack in 2003.
Zaid, who inherited half the property, claimed that in 2011 his brother began to demand his share of the house ''there and then'' and pinned him down during a row.
The two men never spoke again except through lawyers, but Zaid denied rumours that he had threatened to kill his brother.
He said he knew little about a Swiss bank account containing the proceeds from their father's business in Iraq and would not comment on claims that he attempted to access it using an expired card or tried to fake their father's will.