Al-Hilli massacre: cyclist 'was embroiled in inheritance row'
Yet another report suggests it's the French cyclist's background that police should be investigating
WHO killed the al-Hilli family during their caravanning holiday near Lake Annecy on 5 September? The mystery has taken a new turn with a claim that the passing French cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, who was shot dead at the same time, had been involved in an unpleasant family row over an inheritance.
According to the Sunday Times, Sylvain Mollier was embroiled in a bitter dispute with the family of the young woman he was living with, Claire Schutz.
She had recently become a euro millionaire on paper when she inherited her parents' profitable pharmacy in Grignon, a small town south of Lake Annecy. It was valued at €1.4 million and there were plans to expand the business.
Thanks to his girlfriend's new-found wealth, Mollier did not simply take paternity leave from his work at the nuclear metal works factory Cezus, as was reported at the time - he negotiated a three-year absence. The Sunday Times also notes that he was riding a £4,000 racing bike on the day he was killed.
According to an unnamed council official who spoke to the paper on condition of anonymity, Claire Schutz's family were particularly concerned about Sylvain Mollier's spending. "There was a bitter dispute over what was going on and this got worse when Sylvain took three years off to effectively live off Claire's money," the source said. The Sunday Times claims that this testimony has been confirmed by two further sources.
The paper was unable to get a comment from the Schutz family and claims that Claire Schutz's uncle, Pierre Morange, a political ally of former President Sarkozy, has advised the family "to take what has been described as a 'vow of silence' on Mollier's murder".
Ever since the al-Hillis and Mollier died in an execution-style shooting on 5 September, there have been sporadic suggestions that the French and British police might be barking up the wrong tree in trying find a motive for the murders in Saad al-Hilli's background as an Iraqi-British engineer living in Surrey.
Various reports have raised the possibility that rather than Sylvain Mollier stumbling across the murder of the al-Hillis in a lay-by in the woods outside the village of Chevaline, and being shot as a result, it was the al-Hillis who bore witness to the Frenchman's murder and had to be disposed of by his killer. It would be one explanation for why Mollier was shot seven times and the al-Hillis only three times each.
But the prosecutor overseeing the investigation, Eric Maillaud, has never been persuaded that the killer was targeting Mollier, and remains unmoved by the Sunday Times' investigation, sticking to his mantra that Sylvain Mollier was "at the wrong place at the wrong time".
He told the paper he was aware of the tensions between the Schutz and Mollier families, but added: "They [the tensions] were not something I particularly wanted to make public. The family is entitled to their private life."
Sylvain Mollier's brother, Christophe, apparently speaking to the media for the first time, told the paper that his family had been interviewed for less than an hour by the police. "We expected far longer interviews in an inquiry of this gravity."
What the local news website, Le Dauphine.com, calls "the enigma of the year 2012" looks set to remain one well into 2013, if not beyond. Eric Maillaud said within days of the bodies being found that it could take ten years to find a solution. It looks as if he wasn't kidding.