Investigators in the French Alps massacre case have revealed the man they have re-arrested is the ‘mystery motorcyclist’ who was quizzed seven years ago.
While refusing to name him, lawyers on Wednesday confirmed he was the man seen driving away from the crime scene close to Lake Annecy, and looking lost.
Prosecutors today extended his custody as they question him over the lethal attack on a British family and a cyclist in the French Alps on September 5, 2012.
It was the day Surrey businessman Saad al-Hilli, 50, his wife Iqbal, 47, and his mother-in-law Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were gunned down in their BMW car.
French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45, also died in the bloodbath, after being shot seven times at point blank range at a layby near Lake Annecy, eastern France.
The Al-Hillis’ daughter, Zeena, four, hid in the footwell of the vehicle and was unscathed, while her sister, Zainab, seven, was shot and pistol-whipped but recovered.
French Alps massacre investigators have revealed the man they have re-arrested is the ‘mystery motorcyclist’ (pictured, an e-fit released in Novemebr 20who was quizzed seven years ago over British family’s murder as his custody is extended
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, were gunned down in their BMW car on September 5, 2012, alongside French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45, (right) also died in the bloodbath
Previous suspects and ‘witnesses’ arrested over the case
During the course of the investigation, several individuals have been questioned but none has been charged.
Saad al-Hilli’s brother Zaid: Arrested on suspicion of murder in 2013 but released after police found there was insufficient evidence to charge him with a crime.
French former soldier Patrice Menegaldo: Questioned in April 2013 – though police later maintained this was as a witness, not a suspect.
Menegaldo took his own life in June 2014 and left a suicide note that referred to ‘feeling like a suspect’.
Iraqi prisoner known as Mr S: Questioned after he claimed to have been offered ‘a large sum of money’ to kill Iraqis living in the UK.
Former local policeman Eric Devouassoux: Arrested in February 2014 in connection with the tragedy but later cleared.
Convicted killer Nordahl Lelandais: Questioned in connection with the case while being suspected of two murders that happened nearby.
After a review, authorities said they no longer believe Lelandais was connected to the al-Hilli family case.
He was later convicted for the murder of Corporal Arthur Noyer, 23, and faces another trial this year after he admitted killing Maelys de Araujo, eight, in August 2017 – though he maintains both deaths were accidental.
An e-fit photo of a ‘prime suspect motorcyclist’ with a goatee beard was released in November 2013 and showed him in a distinctive black helmet, of which only about 8000 were made.
The image, mainly produced by two forest rangers who briefly spoke to the man, finally led to a first arrest of the biker – a businessman from the French city of Lyon – in 2015.
He told police he had been on his way home from a paragliding trip in the Alps and was released without charge.
n Tuesday morning, the man was re-arrested at the home in Lyon that he shares with his wife and children.
An initial custody period of 24-hours was extended on Wednesday, as prosecutors said there were ‘inconsistencies with his alibi’ that needed to be resolved.
He was being held on suspicion of ‘murder and attempted murder’, as his defence lawyer, Jean-Christophe Basson-Larbi, pleaded his innocence.
Mr Basson-Larbi said: ‘This is a judicial error. My client is going through hell.’
Quoting his client directly, Mr Basson-Larbi said: ‘The position of this gentleman is always the same.
‘I was strolling, I went to this region for something specific. The weather was fine, he was wandering on paths he didn’t know because he didn’t use his GPS.
‘He crossed paths with motorists, maybe, but he didn’t cross paths with this poor family.’
The motorcyclist said he ‘did not make the connection’ between his presence near the scene of the crime and the e-fit when it was first circulated, and that is why he did not initially come forward.
However, investigators have now detected discrepancies in his testimony while interviewing him at a secure police station in Chambery.
Annecy prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis 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.’
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
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)
How did events on the day of the 2012 gun massacre of a British family and French cyclist in the Alps unfold?
During the morning of September 5, 2012, Iqbal, her mother Suhaila and her daughters, Zainab and Zeena, were seen picking apples together.
Around 1pm the family left the campsite and drove towards the village of Chevaline.
After 3:45pm an RAF veteran overtook another cyclist on a heavily forested road south of Chevaline in the French Alps.
Moments later he pulled into a car park and found Mr Mollier lying dead beside the family’s bullet-ridden BMW, which still has its engine running and was in reverse.
He spotted injured Zainab walking towards him before collapsing. He put her in the recovery position and called for help.
The cyclist saw the dead bodies of Saad al-Hilli, his wife Iqbal and his mother in law Suhaila, inside the car, which was locked.
Each of them had been shot twice in the head while Mr Mollier was shot seven times.
Around 4:20pm police arrived but did not disturb the crime scene because forensic experts from Paris were on their way. More than two dozen spent bullet casings were later found near the vehicle.
Zainab was taken to hospital in Grenoble while her sister Zeena remained hidden, cowering under her mother’s legs in the rear footwell for eight hours before she was discovered.
Around 11pm a family who had been camping next to the al-Hilli’s told police the couple had two children leading to a rescue mission involving helicopters and search dogs to find Zeena.
A helicopter fitted with thermal imaging flew over the BMW but failed to detect Zeena.
Around midnight on September 6, the police eventually opened the vehicle’s doors and discovered the four-year-old cowering under her death mother’s legs.
Source: DUK News