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Arrest made nine years after quadruple murder in French Alps

Four people were murdered on a wooded road near to the village of Chaveline on September 5, 2012

The killings took place near Annecy Pic: Pascale Gueret / Shutterstock

[Article updated on January 12 at 16:40]

A man has been taken into custody as part of an ongoing investigation into a quadruple murder which took place in the alpine village of Chevaline in Haute-Savoie in 2012.

The arrest was announced today (January 12) by the public prosecution service of Annecy.

The individual is being questioned about their activities on the day of the killings, but also the days before and after, and their home is being searched, Franceinfo reports.

“One person was taken into custody on January 12, 2022, at 08:05 by the Chambéry tracking team in relation to the murder of the al-Hilli family and Sylvain Mollier,” public prosecutor Line Bonnet said, adding that further details will be released when possible but that the arrest is currently subject to rules on confidentiality.

BFMTV reports that the suspect has previously been questioned by police as a witness to the incident.

What happened in Chevaline?

On September 5, 2012, a British resident of France, Brett Martin, was cycling in the forest area of Chevaline, near Annecy, when he found the bodies of tourist Saad al-Hilli, 50, an Iraqi-born British engineer, his wife Iqbal, 47, and mother-in-law, Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, in their BMW car.

The body of a cyclist called Sylvain Mollier was discovered close by. 

All of the victims had been shot, but Mr Martin had not heard any shots being fired. Investigators found that he may have been cycling close to the nearby river at the time of the murders, with the noise of the rushing water masking the gunshots.

When the car was found by Mr Martin, the engine was still running and the car was in reverse gear, having apparently just been reversed at speed, with the rear wheels still spinning in the loose sand, and the doors locked.

The al-Hillis’ eldest daughter Zainab was found alive, having been able to get out of the car and into the road after being shot in the shoulder. Their younger daughter, then aged four, also survived, but was only found over eight hours later when forensic investigators saw that she had been hiding under her mother’s legs.

Investigations into the shootings involving 100 gendarmes and 40 British police officers spread across France, England and the al-Hillis’ country of origin, Iraq, but the case was never solved. 

Some arrests were made and various theories as to the murderer’s motives emerged, but no one has ever been charged with the crimes.

On September 30, 2021, gendarmes blocked the road where the incident occurred to carry out a reconstruction of the crimes.

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