A suspect in the 2012vacationing in the French Alps and a cyclist has been detained, a French prosecutor said Wednesday. Saad al-Hilli, his wife Ikbal and his mother-in-law Souhaila al-Allaf were shot dead on a remote mountain road near Annecy in eastern France.
French cyclist Sylvain Mollier was also killed in the shooting. The couple’s two young daughters, who were in the car at the time of the shooting, survived the attack.
Prosecutor Line Bonnet tweeted that a person has been placed in police custody in the Chambery region “in connection with the investigation into the murders of the al-Hilli family and Sylvain Mollier, known as the ‘Chevaline events’ of Sept. 5, 2012.”
She didn’t give further details on the case because the investigation is ongoing.
French investigators have previously questioned persons of interest in the killings but nine years into the probe no charges have been filed in the case.
The al-Hilli children, aged 4 and 7 at the time, were the only witnesses to the macabre killings that have puzzled French investigators. The case has international ramifications with links tying the slain family to Britain, Iraq, Sweden and Spain.
In 2015, the prosecutor found no evidence to implicate a French motorcyclist that had been questioned by police in Annecy after British police issued a sketch of a motorcyclist seen near the crime scene.
The four victims and the two young survivors were discovered by police in a wooded area on an isolated mountain road from the village of Chevaline, near bucolic Lake Annecy in eastern France.
Eric Maillaud, the prosecutor in Annecy in 2012, said the 4-year-old girl who survived the shootings could not help their investigation because she was hiding under her mother’s legs during the killings. She was found inside the car about eight hours after the shootings.
Her 7-year-old sister, who was shot in the shoulder and survived, was found bloodied and battered outside the vehicle, a BMW station wagon in which three of the bodies were found.
The girl was rescued by a British cyclist who came upon the scene. In an interview with BBC News, Brett Martin, a former Royal Air Force pilot, said the shocking scene he stumbled across “was like something out of a Hollywood movie,”
He told the BBC he made the difficult decision to leave her bleeding on the ground while he went to seek help.
The prosecutor has said 25 gun cartridges were found inside the family vehicle. All those killed were found with at least three bullet wounds, each with one single shot to the head.