Man held for murder in the French Alps in 2012 freed without charge after police investigation

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French police questioned a man arrested in the 2012 unsolved murder of a British family in the Alps on Thursday, with prosecutors saying he had participated as a witness in a reconstruction of the crime scene three months ago .

The unnamed man’s detention has raised hopes of a breakthrough in one of the country’s most notorious murder cases which saw three members of a British family shot dead in front of their two young daughters.

A French cyclist was also killed nearby on a lonely mountain road near Lake Annecy.

Local newspaper Le Dauphine Libère identified the arrested man as a mystery motorcyclist seen near the crime scene who was cleared in 2015 after a more than two-year hunt by police to find him.

Contacted by AFP on Thursday, local prosecutor Line Bonnet declined to confirm the information, but said the individual was one of four witnesses “returned to the scene” to participate in a reconstruction a little over 100 years ago. three months.

She wrote on Twitter that her detention had been extended, giving police an additional 24 hours to question her and possibly bring charges.

French investigators continued to work on the cold case for more than nine years, but still struggled to identify a motive for the Al-Hilli family murders.

Saad al-Hilli, a 50-year-old Iraqi-born British tourist, was shot dead with his 47-year-old wife Iqbal and his 74-year-old mother in a wooded parking lot near the village of Chevaline in the hills above Lake d ‘Annecy.

Each was shot multiple times in their UK-registered BMW station wagons and more than two dozen spent bullet casings were found near the vehicle.

The couple’s two daughters, aged seven and four at the time, survived the attack, but the eldest daughter was shot and beaten.

A 45-year-old French cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, was also killed after he apparently stumbled at the scene.

‘Exonerated in 2015’ A lawyer for the arrested man said Wednesday evening that the detention was unjustified because his client had already been “exonerated in 2015” after being heard as a “mere witness”.

Lawyer Jean-Christophe Basson-Larbi told reporters his client’s position remained that he was in the area at the time and had never crossed paths with the Al-Hilli family.

After being questioned in 2015, the biker was declared by the public prosecutor as “the business manager of the Rhône-Alpes region, of good reputation and above all suspicion, who had gone paragliding and was on the way”. residence.”

Police eventually tracked him down after posting an image showing him with a goatee and wearing an unusual type of helmet.

He told police he didn’t come forward as a potential witness because he didn’t pay attention to the media.

He was found after police rounded up the 4,000 cell phone numbers registered in the area on the day of the murders and started calling each one.

(AFP)

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