British police make appeal in Alps murder case

LONDON (AFP) - British police assisting the investigation into last year's murder of a British-Iraqi family in the French Alps on Monday released footage of a 4x4 vehicle seen close to the crime scene.

Detectives told BBC's Crimewatch programme that they wanted to trace the owner of a right-hand drive 4x4 vehicle which was spotted in the French commune of Chevaline at around 3.20pm on Sept5 last year.

Police in France have been struggling to solve the case of the shootings in the Haute-Savoie department, where Saad al-Hilli, his wife Iqbal and her mother Suhaila al-Allaf were all found dead inside their estate car near Lake Annecy, along with a French cyclist who investigators believe was an innocent bystander.

The couple's two young daughters survived the attack.

Detective Superintendent Nick May said: "I am appealing for anyone with a right-hand drive 4X4, particularly a grey, black or dark coloured BMW X5, to cast their minds back to September last year. Were you on holiday in the French Alps at the time? Did you visit the Annecy area?

"I am particularly keen to speak to any owner of such a vehicle who visited the towns of Doussard or Chevaline on the afternoon of Sept 5 as they may be able to provide vital information to assist with this ongoing joint investigation.

"This location is very popular and there may have been a number of tourists staying in the local area or travelling through at that time of year.

"The timing of this sighting is clearly significant and it is important that we trace this vehicle if only to eliminate it from our inquiries.

"This was a shocking crime, and we remain committed to working with our colleagues in France to find whoever was responsible and bring them to justice," he added.