Biker had no link to French Alps murder mystery: police

6th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

French authorities said Friday that a biker wanted in connection with the mysterious 2012 murders of a British-Iraqi family and a cyclist in the French Alps had been identified but had no link to the killings.

"We are certain that we have identified the biker," Annecy prosecutor EricMaillaud told AFP.

"He is the head of a business in the Rhone-Alps region, with a good reputation and above any suspicion, who had gone to do some paragliding and was on his way home."

Police had been looking for the mystery biker, seen by forest rangers shortly before the gruesome murders, since the start of the investigation.

An identikit image of the man, with a goatee and wearing a rare type of helmet, was released in November 2013.

"He said he did not pay attention to all the media hype around the biker and the helmet at the time," said Maillaud.

The man "said he saw absolutely nothing" on the day of the killings, the prosecutor added, but will be re-interviewed at a later date in case he remembers anything.

He was finally tracked down after a lengthy process of telephoning around the region by police.

Saad al-Hilli, a 50-year-old Iraqi-born British tourist in France, was gunned down along with his 47-year-old wife Iqbal and her 74-year-old mother in a woodland car park close to the village of Chevaline in the hills above Lake Annecy.

Each was shot several times in their British-registered BMW estate car and more than two dozen spent bullet casings were found near the vehicle.

The couple's two daughters, aged seven and four at the time, survived the gruesome attack, but the older girl was shot and badly beaten.

The younger girl survived unscathed after hiding under her mother's skirts for hours after the killings, initially escaping the notice of police.

A 45-year-old French cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, was also killed after apparently stumbling upon the scene.

The identikit image of the biker led to the arrest in February 2014 of a former municipal policeman, who was found with firearms, grenades, explosives and detonators in his home.

Although he was suspected of involvement in arms trafficking, investigators ruled him out as a suspect in the murders since his helmets did not match the one described by witnesses, nor did his weapons fit those used in the killings.

A source close to the investigation said also that DNA from the former policeman did not match samples from two unknown individuals taken at the crime scene.

Saad al-Hilli's brother Zaid was arrested in Britain in June 2013 on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder, but police said the following January that there was insufficient evidence to press charges.

Investigators had been looking at an inheritance dispute between the two brothers.

French and British police have so far failed to make any real progress in the case despite a massive effort involving officers on both sides of the English Channel.

© 2015 AFP

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