Man ‘ruled out’ in Alps murder hunt

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Published: Friday 6th March 2015 by The News Editor

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A motorcyclist sought by police investigating the murders of three members of a British family in the French Alps has been identified – and ruled out of the inquiry, according to reports.

Police traced the biker last month – more than two years after the the shooting of engineer Saad al-Hilli, his wife Ikbal and her mother Suhaila al-Allaf, on a forest road in Chevaline in September 2012.

But authorities have said the man, from Lyon, had no connection to the killings and was in the area “by accident” when they took place, according to France Info.

He was interviewed by detectives from Chambery and told them he came to Chevaline to practice his passion for paragliding, the radio station said.

The motorcyclist was said to have been driving on the Combe d’Ire road at around 3pm before he was stopped by two forest rangers who asked him to leave.

He agreed, driving back down the path past the car park where the Al-Hilli family and a cyclist were gunned down.

According to sources close to the investigation, he has not given any information that could lead to new witnesses.

“His personal and professional profile exclude him 95% from the list of suspects but further inquiries are still required,” an investigator told France Info.

The motorcyclist said he did not “make the connection” between his presence near the scene of the killing and the identikit picture of him which was circulated. Police released the image in November 2013.

Today’s reports are the latest twist in a mysterious case which has so far proved elusive to investigators on both sides of the Channel.

Last year detectives revealed Mrs al-Hilli was previously married to a man who died on the same day as the shootings, although they stressed they were not connecting the deaths.

It also emerged that police questioned a 35-year-old Iraqi man last month following a tip-off from a former jail mate.

The man, Mr S, was traced following claims he once told a fellow prisoner he had been offered “a large sum of money” to kill Iraqis living in the UK.

He was released without charge after it was established he was not in France on the day of the killings and there was no evidence linking him to the al-Hilli family.

A 48-year-old man was arrested in February but was released from custody after investigators found no direct link between him and the killings.

Mr al-Hilli’s brother Zaid was arrested on suspicion of murder in June 2013 but was told in January last year that he would face no further action after police found there was insufficient evidence to charge him with a crime.

The bodies of Iraqi-born Mr al-Hilli and his dentist wife, who lived in Claygate, Surrey, were discovered along with that of Mrs al-Hilli’s mother in their BMW on a remote forest route by cyclist Brett Martin.

The couple’s two young daughters survived the attack, while a local cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, was murdered.

A spokesman for Surrey Police said it is “continuing to provide support” to the French investigation.

He added: “As part of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which was established following the deaths, officers from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team have worked closely with the French authorities to progress a number of lines of inquiry in the UK.

“This is a complex inquiry, however Surrey Police remains committed to helping find answers to what happened and continuing to assist the French investigation wherever possible.”

Published: Friday 6th March 2015 by The News Editor

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