A composite drawing of an unidentified motorcyclist
released by the French police last year. REUTERS/Robert
French police have arrested a 48-year-old man suspected
of being the motorcyclist spotted near the scene of an
execution-style killing of a British family of Iraqi origin in
2012, a prosecutor said.
Prosecutor Eric Maillaud said in a statement that the arrest
had been prompted by witness testimony after a sketch of an
unknown man riding a motorcycle near the crime scene in
southeastern France was made public in November.
France 3 television said the man arrested was from the region
where the killings had occurred and that he had not
previously been known to police. No other details were
Saad al-Hilli, an Iraqi-born British engineer, was found shot
dead in September 2012 with his wife and mother-in-law in
their BMW car on a remote mountain road near the village of
Chevaline in the Rhone-Alpes region. The body of a cyclist,
Sylvain Mollier, was discovered nearby.
They were killed in what appeared to be execution-style
murders from a semi-automatic pistol.
Al-Hilli's brother Zaid, who prosecutors said had feuded with
his brother over an inheritance, was arrested last year in
Britain on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder. He was
released in January by British police with no charges filed.
The witness who first discovered the family, a British
cyclist, told investigators he had seen a motorcyclist not
far from the scene. Two forest officials had also stopped a
motorcyclist on the road before the killings were discovered
and instructed him to turn around as the road was closed to
"Nothing allows us to state that the motorcyclist is the
author of the crimes," Maillaud said last year, when his
portrait was made public.
Hilli's two daughters survived the attack, despite the gunman
trying to kill the eldest - seven-year-old Zainab - by
beating her around the head after running out of bullets.
Four-year-old Zeena was found safe hiding beneath the legs
and skirt of her dead mother in the backseat of the car.