The detention of a man arrested for the unsolved murders of an Anglo-Iraqi family and a cyclist in the French Alps has been extended amid reports he was questioned in 2015.
the the suspect has been in custody since Wednesday Morning.
In 2012, Saad al-Hilli, his wife Ikba and his stepmother Souhaila al-Allaf, all of whom lived in Surrey, were shot dead in their car on an isolated road near Annecy, in eastern France.
The two young al-Hilli girls, who were in the car at the time of the shooting, survived the attack.
Four-year-old Zeena, who hid under her mother’s legs during the murders, was found inside the BMW station wagon around eight hours after the attack.
Her seven-year-old sister, Zainab, was shot in the shoulder and found bloody and beaten outside the vehicle. She was then interviewed.
French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45, also died after being shot seven times.
All of the deceased were found with at least three gunshot wounds, each with at least one bullet to the head.
Prosecutor Line Bonnet said the investigating judge had extended the suspect’s custody to allow house searches and so further questions on the timeline of the murders could take place.
Suspect detained in 2015 – French media
The detained man has not been identified, but French media reported that he is known to investigators and was questioned in 2015 after UK police released a composite drawing of a motorcyclist wearing a distinctive helmet in 2013 seen nearby.
However, the Annecy prosecutor’s office found no evidence implicating the then biker, who claimed he was paragliding at the time of the murders.
He said he did not come forward sooner, despite the skit being widely broadcast, as he had not seen anything and did not think his testimony would be helpful, BFMTV reported.
He is a 57-year-old father and entrepreneur, according to the broadcaster.
“He is in custody for nothing”
The lawyer for the current suspect, Jean-Christophe Basson-Larbi, said his client’s detention was unjustified because he cooperated with the police and investigators had previously cleared him of any involvement in horrific murders.
“He has the feeling, perhaps wrongly – but I share the feeling with him – that he was taken into custody for nothing,” Basson-Larbi said.
“They put this man in a cloud of suspicion, hung him a life sentence, to check where he was”, nine years ago, the lawyer told French journalists.
The lawyer said that the man’s testimony about the events of that day remains the same: he was walking around the neighborhood and could have crossed the isolated road where the victims were found, but had not seen “this poor family “.
Who else was arrested?
The suspects previously arrested in connection with the case include an Iraqi prisoner known as MS.
He reportedly said that he had been offered “a large sum of money” to kill Iraqis living in the UK.
Mr. al-Hilli’s brother, Zaid, was also arrested on suspicion of murder in 2013 but he was later told he would face no further action after police discovered there was not enough evidence to charge him with a crime.
Police were also investigating a possible link with a gang of hired killers living in Paris.
No charges have ever been laid in this case.