LONDON (AFP) – A Nigerian-born man appeared in a British court on Wednesday charged with attempting to defraud a British-Iraqi family who were mysteriously shot dead in the French Alps.
Abiodun David John, 33, is accused of eight counts of fraud for allegedly trying to access Saad al-Hilli’s accounts, both before and after the engineer was killed with his wife, her mother and a passing cyclist on September 5.
John is also charged with attempting to obtain a credit card in Hilli’s name the day after the 50-year-old businessman was found dead in his BMW estate car in a car park near the French village of Chevaline, Lake Annecy.
John appeared dazed and fell to the floor during a short hearing at Guildford Magistrates’ Court in Surrey, southeast England.
He was remanded in custody until a further hearing at Redhill Magistrates’ Court in Surrey on Tuesday. His defence lawyer told the court that his client intended to plead not guilty.
Surrey Police say the fraud charges are not linked to the ongoing murder investigation by around 100 French and British police.
The Hillis’ two young daughters survived the horrifying attack.
Seven-year-old Zainab al-Hilli was shot and severely beaten and her four-year-old sister Zeena lay undetected under her mother’s body for eight hours after the shooting.
Police have investigated several theories about why the four victims were killed, ranging from an alleged family dispute over money, to Hilli’s work in the satellite industry and his connections in Iraq.
French investigators have denied press reports that they now believe cyclist Sylvain Mollier was the prime target.