COPS have arrested a person over the murder of a British family in a notorious gun attack in the Alps nine years ago.
In 2012 Surrey businessman Saad al-Hilli, 50, his wife Iqbal, 47, and his mother-in-law Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were gunned down in a horrific attack.
French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45, also died in the bloodbath, after being shot seven times at point-blank range.
The French justice ministry has now confirmed the arrest of a person in relation to the killings, near beauty spot Lake Annecy in eastern France.
Local media are also reporting that house searches are being carried out and alibis checked.
All three killed were ruthlessly dispatched with “double tap” shots to the head by a professional shooter who circled their parked BMW.
The Al-Hillis’ daughter, Zeena, four, hid in the footwell of the vehicle and was unscathed, while her sister, Zainab, seven, was shot and beaten but made a good recovery.
Despite an investigation stretching across the world, the individual or gang responsible have never been caught.
Prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis has always insisted that the enquiry was still very much active.
In October, a lake near to the crime scene was sealed off as part of the investigation.
Referring to the nearest village to the crime scene, Bonnet-Mathis said at the time: “The Chevaline case is continuing, and still involves an investigating judge and investigators.”
She confirmed that forensics officers were back at the scene.
They were accompanied by local magistrates who had obtained an order to shut the road down for two 24-hour periods.
Their work was being carried out under conditions of strict secrecy, with all traffic, including aircraft flying above, banned by court order.
“It’s a chance for the new legal team to examine elements of the case, including inconsistencies in the testaments of witnesses,” said another investigating source.
Asked if a reconstruction was taking place, the source said: “Not technically – it’s more a chance for the team to familiarise themselves with the scene.”
Last year, detectives said they were investigating a possible link between the murders and a bungling gang of contract killers based in Paris.
Pistol rounds found at the home of one member – a former police intelligence officer – were of the same calibre as those fired by the antique Luger PO6 used to kill the Al-Hillis.
POSSIBLE ‘LONE-WOLF’ ATTACK
If the gang was involved, it would be more likely that cyclist – Mr Mollier – was the primary target, investigators believe.
He was a welder in a subsidiary of the Areva nuclear power group, but tensions in his personal life are more likely to have provided a motive for him being targeted, they said.
Baffled French investigators have considered numerous other potential reasons for the attacks.
These range from Mr Al-Hilli’s past life in Iraq, including potential financial links to the late dictator Saddam Hussein, to claims that a ‘lone wolf’ psychopath was responsible for a random attack.
But none of the numerous theories surrounding the so-called Alps Murders has stuck, meaning there have been no criminal indictments.
In September 2020, sisters Zainab and Zeena were quizzed again by police in the hope that they would be able to give new leads.
Cops even probed Saad’s work making military satellites as a motive and his brother Zaid, 61, was quizzed about an alleged feud but told he’d face no further action.