Did French Alps murder victim’s secret work on space satellite contract make him prime assassination target?
French detectives are to quiz work colleagues of murdered Briton Saad Al-Hilli, after they discovered he was killed while working on a secret contract for one of Europe’s biggest defence companies.
The inquiry’s focus will switch to Surrey Satellites Technology Limited (SSTL) near Guildford this week when gendarmes will question the workforce about whether Mr Al-Hilli’s job may have made him a target for assassination.
As fears grew that Mr Al-Hilli and his family were the victims of contract killers, it emerged that:
- All four of the adults who died were shot twice in the head – the hallmark of professionals.
- Two mobile phones found within the Al-Hillis’ car could provide vital clues for police.
- Police are investigating a theory the killers ‘shadowed’ the Al-Hillis as they travelled through France.
British and French police yesterday conducted a forensic search of the Al-Hillis’ £1.5 million home in Claygate, Surrey, as two members of the extended family arrived in France to comfort the orphaned daughters, Zeena, four, and seven-year-old Zainab, who remains in an induced coma after suffering a fractured skull during a suspected pistol-whipping.
Iraqi-born aerospace engineer Mr Al-Hilli, 50, his 47-year-old wife Iqbal, and his Swedish mother-in-law were killed in a hail of about 25 bullets in the French Alps on Wednesday. Local cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45, was also murdered after disturbing the killers.
EADS lists bodies including NASA, the European Space Agency, and MoD defence contractor Thales as clients. A key partner in the Eurofighter project, the company also designs and launches satellites for clients who want an ‘eye in the sky’ for commercial, civil or security purposes.
The Mail on Sunday has discovered that in December Mr Al-Hilli visited a sub-division of SSTL called DMC International Imaging, which has recently signed a contract with the Chinese to help map the country via satellite imagery. DMC also has a lucrative satellite-mapping deal with Russia and is working with the Foreign Office in Afghanistan to monitor illicit opium poppy cultivation.