Chevaline murder police seize guns

Mobile phone records place suspect close to the scene of 2012 quadruple murder

POLICE have removed a number of guns from the home of a man arrested yesterday in connection with the murders of a British engineer, two members of his family and a French cyclist in Chevaline in September 2012.

The 48-year-old father of three, who was arrested as he left his home in a village close to the location of the murders 18 months ago, has not been identified by Eric Maillaud, the prosecutor in Annecy, “to preserve the presumption of innocence”.

But AFP quoted a local mayor as saying the arrested man lost his job as a municipal policeman in June in Menthon-Saint-Bernard, south of Annecy.

Officers investigating the quadruple murder also searched two properties in the area - the arrested man’s home in Talloires, which is about 10km from Chevaline where police scoured the garden with metal detectors, and another near Lathuile.

He was detained after police issued an e-fit image in November of a man wearing an unusual model of motorcycle helmet.

The image prompted more than 100 calls to police, about 40 of which the prosecutor said supplied useful information.

It is reported that the suspect’s mobile phone records place him close to the scene of the crime.

He has been described in Le Monde as a "taciturn" loner and a "weapons collector".

Ballistics tests will be carried out on the guns to see if they were the ones used in the murders. The weapon used in the quadruple murder has never been found.

Iraqi-born engineer Saad al-Hilli was staying in Annecy with his family when he was shot in the head on September 5, 2012, after parking his car in a layby on a wooded road near Chevaline.

His wife and mother were also shot dead. One of his daughters was wounded and another escaped by hiding under her mother's skirt. The body of a cyclist was found nearby.

Yesterday’s arrest was the first made by French police, who have teamed up with British detectives to investigate the murder.

The only other arrest in the case was made by police in the UK. Mr al-Hilli's brother was released from bail last month when detectives in Surrey decided there was not enough evidence to charge him.

Photo: Police Nationale / BFMTV