French police re-arrest suspect over 2012 gun massacre in the Alps
French police re-arrest suspect over 2012 gun massacre of British family in the Alps after ‘discovering inconsistencies’ in his statement
- Suspect arrested over the deaths of British family, French cyclist nine years ago
- Al-Hilli family and Sylvain Mollier were gunned down in Chevaline, French Alps
- The Al-Hillis’ daughters Zeena, four, and Zainab, seven, survived the massacre
- Suspect was arrested before, police are now re-checking his original statement
French police have re-arrested a suspect in connection with the 2012 gun massacre of a British family and French cyclist in the Alps after ‘discovering inconsistencies’ in his statement.
In a dramatic development to what many had considered a cold case, a prosecuting source in Annecy, eastern France, on Wednesday confirmed that ‘a man was placed in custody at 8.05am and is being questioned at length’ in relation to the savage attack in the Alps.
Police are examining inconsistencies in the unnamed man’s original testimony and checking out his alibi,’ said the source.
Surrey businessman Saad al-Hilli, 50, his wife Iqbal, 47, and his mother-in-law Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were gunned down as they tried to escape the area in their BMW car on September 5, 2012.
French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45, also died in the bloodbath, after being shot seven times at point blank range.
The Al-Hillis’ daughter, Zeena, four, hid in the footwell of the vehicle and was unscathed, while her sister, Zainab, seven, was shot and beaten but made a good recovery.
French police have re-arrested a suspect in connection with the 2012 gun massacre of a British family and French cyclist in the Alps after ‘discovering inconsistencies’ in his statement (pictured, the crime scene)
Surrey businessman Saad al-Hilli, 50, (left) his wife Iqbal, 47, and his mother-in-law Suhaila al-Allaf, 74 (right) also died in the September 2012 bloodbath, along with local cyclist Sylvian Mollier, 45
Annecy prosecutor Line Bonnet said in a statement: ‘A person was taken into custody on January 12, 2022 at 8:05 am by investigators from Chambery in connection with the assassination of the Al Hilli family and Sylvain Mollier.’
He was said to be ‘living in a couple’ of houses in the Lyon area, and searches of his home and nearby properties were continuing.
Despite an investigation stretching across the world, those responsible have never been caught, leading to accusations that the French now view it as unsolvable.
But Line Bonnet-Mathis, the Annecy Prosecutor, has confirmed that the enquiry is still very much active.
Referring to the nearest hamlet to the crime scene, she said at the end of last year: ’The Chevaline case is continuing, and still involves an investigating judge and investigators.’
Ms Bonnet-Mathis said the ‘preservation of physical evidence’ was a priority and that ‘for us, this is not a cold case.’
She confirmed that forensics officers from the research section of the Chambery gendarmerie had returned to the scene.
In November 2015 a motorcyclist linked with the murders was ruled out of the investigation.
One lead in tracing the man was that he was wearing an unusual helmet, only a few thousand of which had been made.
But the motorcyclist said he had been on his way home after a paragliding trip, and was ruled out of the enquiry.
It was described at the time as a major setback for police who had focused much of their attention on the motorcyclist.
Mr al-Hilli’s brother, Zaid al-Hilli, was arrested in June 2013 but then 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 used by Saad al-Hilli and his family while on holiday 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 bungling gang of contract killers based in Paris.
Pistol rounds found at the home of one member, a former police intelligence officer, were of the same calibre as those fired by the antique Luger PO6 used to kill the Al-Hillis.
Investigators believe that if the gang was involved, it be more likely that Mr Mollier was the primary target.
He was a welder in a subsidiary of the Areva nuclear power group, but tensions in his personal life are more likely to have provided a motive for him being targeted, they said.
Baffled French investigators have considered numerous other potential reasons for the attacks.
These range from Mr Al-Hilli’s past life in Iraq, including potential financial links to the late dictator Saddam Hussein, to claims that a ‘lone wolf’ psychopath was responsible for a random attack.
But none of the numerous theories surrounding the so-called Alps Murders have stuck, meaning there have been no criminal indictments.
Earlier in 2021, detectives (pictured at the scene in September 2021) said they were investigating a possible link between the murders and a bungling gang of contract killers based in Paris
Magistrates accompanied by police forensics officers cordoned off the area near Lake Annecy in September 2021
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