Former Witness Arrested in Connection With 2012 French Alps Murders

Authorities say they want to verify local man's schedule
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2022 6:40 PM CST
After 9 Years, a New Arrest in French Alps Murders
Gendarmes and investigators stand at the camp site where a slain British family were holidaying in Saint Jorioz, near Annecy, on Sept. 6, 2012.   (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau, File)

(Newser) – Almost a decade after three members of an Iraqi-British family were murdered in the French Alps, another arrest has been made. A French prosecutor said Wednesday that a person had been detained in connection with what is known as "the 'Chevaline events' of Sept. 5, 2012," CBS reports. That was the day engineer Saad al-Hilli, his wife, Ikbal, and his mother-in-law Souhaila al-Allaf were shot dead on a remote mountain road near the village of Chevaline. French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, who had apparently arrived at the murder scene by chance, was also killed.

The family's two young daughters survived the attack. Zainab, then 7 years old, was shot and beaten while 4-year-old Zeena was found unharmed, hiding under her mother's body in the family's vehicle. Several arrests in the case have been made over the years, but nobody has ever been charged. Authorities said the person arrested Wednesday, who lives in the area, was taken into custody on a judge's orders for "verifications regarding his schedule." CNN reports that the man has previously been heard as a witness in the case.

The daughters, who were given new identities after the murders, were interviewed again last year and the crime was reconstructed on the ninth anniversary, the BBC reports. Over the years, investigators have looked at many possibilities, including theories that the murders were connected to al-Hilli's work as a satellite engineer, a feud with his brother, or funds from Saddam Hussein's private fortune. A book published in 2015 claimed that a former French Foreign Legion soldier was the killer and Mollier was the real target, the Guardian reports. (Read more Saad al-Hilli stories.)

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