French police arrest another suspect in 2012 murder of British family in the Alps
French police have re-arrested a suspect in connection with the 2012 massacre of a British family and a French cyclist in the Alps, after he “discovered inconsistencies” in his statement.
In a dramatic evolution into what many considered a cold case, a prosecutor in Annecy, eastern France, confirmed on Wednesday that “at 8:05 a.m. a man was taken into custody and is under prolonged interrogation” in connection with the brutal attack in Alpine.
Police are investigating inconsistencies in the unnamed man’s original testimony and checking his alibi,” the source said.
Surrey businessman Saad al-Hilli, 50, his wife Iqbal, 47, and mother-in-law Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were gunned down on September 5, 2012 as they tried to escape from the area in their BMW car.
French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45, also died in the massacre, after being shot at seven times at close range.
Al-Hillis’ daughter, Zeena, four, hid in the footwell of the vehicle and was unharmed, while her sister, Zainab, seven, was shot and beaten but recovered.
French police have re-arrested a suspect in connection with the 2012 massacre of a British family and French cyclist in the Alps, after he ‘discovered inconsistencies’ in his statement (photo, crime scene)
Surrey businessman Saad al-Hilli, 50, (left) his wife Iqbal, 47, and mother-in-law Suhaila al-Allaf, 74 (right) also died in the September 2012 massacre along with local cyclist Sylvian Mollier, 45
Annecy prosecutor Line Bonnet said in a statement: “A person was taken into custody at 8:05 am on January 12, 2022, by detectives from Chambery in connection with the murder of the Al Hilli and Sylvain Mollier family.”
He was said to have lived “in a few” houses in the Lyon area, and searches of his home and nearby properties continued.
Despite a global investigation, those responsible have never been caught, leading to accusations that the French now consider it unsolvable.
But Line Bonnet-Mathis, Annecy’s prosecutor, has confirmed that the investigation is still very active.
Referring to the nearest hamlet to the crime scene, she said late last year: “The Chevaline case continues and an investigating judge and detectives are still involved.”
Ms Bonnet-Mathis said the ‘preservation of physical evidence’ was a priority and that ‘this is not a cold case for us’.
She confirmed that forensic officers from the Chambery Gendarmerie Investigation Department had returned to the crime scene.
In November 2015, a motorcyclist linked to the murders was excluded from the investigation.
One clue in tracking down the man was that he was wearing an unusual helmet, of which only a few thousand were made.
But the motorcyclist said he was on his way home after paragliding and that he was excluded from the investigation.
It was described at the time as a major setback for the police who had paid a lot of attention to the motorcyclist.
Mr al-Hilli’s brother, Zaid al-Hilli, was arrested in June 2013 but released without charge.
Surrey Police said there was not enough evidence to charge the then 54-year-old from Chessington, Surrey.
The caravan and tent that Saad al-Hilli and his family used during their holidays at the Le Solitaire du Lac campsite on Lake Annecy (File photo)
Earlier in 2021, detectives said they were investigating a possible link between the murders and a clumsy gang of hitmen in Paris.
Pistol cartridges found in the home of a member, a former police intelligence officer, were of the same caliber as those fired by the antique Luger PO6 used to kill the Al-Hillis.
Investigators believe that if the gang was involved, it is more likely that Mr. Mollier was the primary target.
He was a welder at a subsidiary of the Areva nuclear power plant, but tensions in his personal life were more likely a motive for his target, they said.
Baffled French investigators have considered numerous other possible reasons for the attacks.
These range from Mr Al-Hilli’s past life in Iraq, including possible financial ties to the late dictator Saddam Hussein, to claims that a “lone wolf” psychopath was responsible for a random attack.
But none of the many theories about the so-called Alpine murders have stuck, meaning there have been no criminal charges.
Earlier in 2021, detectives (at the crime scene in September 2021) said they were investigating a possible link between the murders and a clumsy gang of hitmen in Paris.
Magistrates accompanied by forensic police officers cordoned off the area near Lake Annecy in September 2021