‘€1m from Saddam Hussein’: new light on al-Hilli massacre
Cash in Swiss account raises question: was Saad’s father helping dictator move his fortune abroad?
EVER since the massacre of the al-Hilli family in the woods near Lake Annecy on 5 September, the media have generally accepted the story that Saad al-Hilli’s late father, Kadhim al-Hilli, had “fled” the regime of Saddam Hussein in the late 1970s after falling out with the Ba’ath Party.
With his wife Fasiha, and two boys, Zaid and Saad, the Iraqi factory owner came to live in Pimlico, central London, before moving to suburban Surrey.
But what if Kadhim al-Hilli never “fell out” with the Ba’ath Party, and after moving to England helped Saddam manage the dispersal of the dictator’s fortune to Swiss bank accounts and property purchases in France, in preparation for the day when he would surely be overthrown?
That’s the latest conspiracy theory raised by this baffling case, following a report in Le Monde.
The French paper claims to have been informed that the German intelligence agency BND traced back to Saddam Hussein a deposit of one million euros in a Swiss bank account held in the name of Kadhim al-Hilli.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, a senior French detective said the “cosmopolitan” Kadhim Al-Hilli would have been an obvious candidate to take money out of Iraq.
If Saad al-Hilli had access to the Swiss account following his father’s death, then it could explain why he would be an assassination target.
It could also explain why the al-Hilli family took their impromptu French camping holiday so close to the Swiss border. The village of Chevaline, where Saad, his wife and and mother-in-law were shot dead, along with the French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, is only an hour or so’s drive from Geneva.
According to the Mail on Sunday,“ Swiss prosecutor Dario Zanni believes the family may have been returning from there when they were ambushed”.
The BND has refused to respond to Le Monde’s story, saying: “We do not comment on operations.”
Eric Maillaud, the French prosecutor overseeing the al-Hilli investigation, told reporters he had not yet been advised of the German intelligence information.
Maillaud has said from the start that family financial affairs, along with the family’s Iraq connections, were at the top of the investigators’ agenda. As the Mail reports, it has already been claimed there were tensions between the brothers after Saad put a block on his father’s will, “preventing Zaid from inheriting his share until ‘unknown’ disputes could be resolved”.
Le Monde suggests it was the money in the Swiss bank account that may have been the primary cause of any dispute between the brothers .
Asked about the Le Monde report, Zaid told the Mail on Sunday: “It’s all rubbish, they can speculate until they’re blue in the face to be honest with you.”