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Update: What is known about man arrested over French Alps shootings?

The motorbike rider had already been questioned in 2015 about the quadruple murders which took place on a road outside Chevaline (Haute-Savoie) nine years ago

The murders took place near Annecy Pic: PHILIPIMAGE / Shutterstock

A man was arrested yesterday (January 12) in connection with the 2012 murder of four people, including three UK tourists, on a road outside Chevaline, near Annecy (Haute-Savoie).

Read more: Arrest made nine years after quadruple murder in French Alps

The man was already known to the police, BFMTV reports, as he had been questioned in relation to the shootings in 2015. At that time he had been ruled out as a possible suspect.

The public prosecution service told BFMTV that the man’s period in custody had been extended over the course of yesterday evening, and that his home had been searched. 

What happened in Chevaline?

On September 5, 2012, three members of a UK family - Saad al-Hilli, 50, an Iraqi-born British engineer, his wife Iqbal, 47, and mother-in-law, Suhaila al-Allaf, 74 - were found dead in their BMW car, having been shot in the head. 

The body of a cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, 45, was discovered close by. 

The al-Hillis’ young daughters survived the attack with the youngest found hiding under her mother’s legs.

A short time later, two forest rangers said that they saw a man on a motorbike wearing a helmet at the scene of the crime, but were not able to stop him.

In November 2013, police released a facial composite of this person and an ex-police officer was arrested. He was later released without charge, and committed suicide in June 2014.

In 2015, the man who is currently in custody was identified as the motorbike rider and questioned by police and confirmed that he was in the area at the time of the murders because he was taking part in a paragliding session. 

When asked why he had not come forward at the time of the crimes, he said that he had seen nothing and so believed that his statement would be useless. He also stated that he had not made the connection between his presence in the area and the e-fit image of the motorcyclist.

He was later released without charge.

However, in September 2021, police closed the road where the shootings had occurred in order to carry out a reconstruction of the events of September 5, 2012 in front of investigators and witnesses, including the motorbike rider.

Investigators now wish to clarify certain points about the motorcyclist’s whereabouts and movements on that day.

The man’s lawyer, Jean-Christophe Basson-Larbi, said that yesterday’s arrest was “not justified. 

“My client has always cooperated,” he told AFP. “He is wading through a nightmare. It seems that we are in the midst of the fabrication of guilt with the spectre of a judiciary error.”

The man “has not at any moment had the profile of someone who could have committed, in cold blood and with premeditation, such a murder,” Mr Basson-Larbi added.

“This gentleman’s position remains the same: ‘I was riding [...] but I did not cross the path of that poor family’.”

Several other people have been arrested in the past in connection with the Chevaline murders, but no one has ever been brought to justice.

Related stories 

Corpse found in Alps village scene of 2012 British killings

Mystery of corpse in French Alps village solved

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