A man arrested over the murders of a Brit family in the French Alps has been ruled out of the investigation.
French police have released a man who had been questioned over the 2012 murder of a British family and a cyclist in the French Alps, prosecutors said on Thursday.
Police yesterday detained the man for questioning as part of a new investigation into the killing of four people.
“No charges have been brought against the person who was questioned. The explanations given and the verifications done
allow us to rule out his participation in the facts.
The investigation continues,” the Annecy prosecutor said in a statement.
Saad al-Hilli, 50, his wife, Iqbal, 47, and her mother Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were shot dead from point-blank range while seated in their BMW on a road near Annecy in eastern France on September 5 2012.
One of their two young daughters, Zeena, four, was unharmed while the other – seven-year-old Zainab – was shot, pistol-whipped and left for dead by the assassin.
A 45-year-old cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, who was unrelated to the family, was killed after being shot seven times.
In 2013 police released a photofit of a motorcyclist spotted nearby wearing a distinctive helmet.
Today, nine years after the crime, a man who French media reported was the same motorbike rider was released without charge for the second time after being struck from the enquiry back in 2015.
Newly-appointed Annecy prosecutor Line Bonnet refused to identify the suspect, but French media reported it was the same man who claimed to have been paragliding in the mountains surrounding the murder site on the day of the slayings.
The man’s lawyer Jean-Christophe Basson-Larbi told French broadcaster BFMTV earlier today that his client’s rearrest was an unjustified “judicial error”.
He added that his client was not the type of person capable to “have committed such a cold-blooded, premeditated murder”.
Basson-Larbi said the man maintains the same position he always has: “I was walking…but never crossed paths with this poor family.”
At the time he told officers he was riding his motorbike along a narrow road that lead to the remote clearing where the al-Hillis and the French cyclist were shot.
He told authorities he was in the area on a paragliding trip – which is a popular pastime in the surrounding mountains.
However, he said he was unaware of what happened at the remote car park – despite rolling nationwide news coverage and an all-round high level of publicity.
He said he didn’t come forward earlier, despite the wide circulation of the sketch, because he had not seen anything and did not think his testimony would be useful, BFMTV reported.
The bodies of Iraqi-born engineer Saad and his dentist wife, Iqbal, who lived in Claygate, Surrey, were discovered along with that of Mrs al-Hilli’s mother, Suhaila al-Allaf in their BMW on a remote forest route.
Seven-year-old Zainab was left with severe injuries, while her little sister Zeena, four, was found cowering under her dead mother’s dress when their bodies were discovered.
In a bizarre twist, Mrs al-Hilli’s previous husband, an American dentist named only as James T, died from a heart attack on the same day as the couple, but police said there was no link to the murders.
Suspects previously arrested in connection with the case include an Iraqi prisoner known as Mr S who was claimed to have said he had been offered “a large sum of money” to kill Iraqis living in the UK.
Nine years into the investigation, no charges have been filed in the case.