ANNECY, France — French investigators focused Friday on a feud between brothers as they searched for a motive in the slayings of a British-Iraqi family vacationing in the French Alps. A French prosecutor said that the brother of the slain man came to British police of his own accord Friday to tell them, ‘‘I have no conflict with my brother.’’
Prosecutor Eric Maillaud said British police have reported that 50-year-old Saad al Hilli may have been feuding with his brother, Zaid, over money. But he did not know if this was linked to British media reports of a possible disputed inheritance. A family friend said the father of the two men died recently — while public records showed the brother had left the victim’s small aeronautics design firm.
Two young sisters survived the deaths of their parents and an older woman in the family car late Wednesday, as well as a French cyclist whose body was found nearby. The children, apparently the only witnesses to the shootings on an isolated Alpine road, were under police and consular protection Friday. With the killer or killers still at large, the two children’s security was reinforced Friday.
For the first time in nearly two days, police lifted a roadblock leading to the pitted, single-lane road running along a clear mountain stream. Broken glass and skid marks marred the small parking area where the family was found. A sign noted the area’s status as a national hunting and animal reserve, mapping out nearby trails.
Maillaud said that the 4-year-old girl who survived the shooting of her family in the French Alps could not help their investigation because she was hiding under her mother’s legs during the killings. She was found in the backseat of the car early Thursday, some eight hours after the crime scene was discovered.
But the girl, Zeena al Hilli, was lucid enough to be able to confirm to French police that her father and mother were among the victims killed inside the car. Her 7-year-old sister, who was shot in the shoulder and survived, was found bloodied and battered outside the vehicle.