French police arrest man over 2012 killing of British family and cyclist in Alps

Local media reports the suspect has been questioned before over unsolved case

French police have detained an individual over the 2012 murder of a British family and a cyclist in the French Alps, Annecy prosecutor Line Bonnet said on Wednesday.

Saad al-Hilli (50), an Iraqi-born British engineer, his wife Ikbal (47), and her mother Suhaila al-Allaf, who held a Swedish passport, were killed in their car in September 2012 near the village of Chevaline while on a camping holiday. A local cyclist who was passing by was also killed.

"A person has been arrested as part of an investigation into the murder of the family and of [the cyclist] Sylvain Mollier. The arrest will serve to verify that person's schedule," the prosecutor said in a statement.

BFM TV reported that the suspect was a man who had been questioned before in the case. It added that the man’s residence was being searched.


French investigators have pursued several lines of inquiry over the years, including a possible family feud over money and al-Hilli’s work as a satellite engineer, but the case has remained unsolved.

Prosecutors said at the time of the killings that each victim had been shot at least three times, and at least once in the head.

The family’s two daughters, then aged seven and four, survived the attack.

The seven-year-old suffered serious skull fractures. The four-year-old hid for eight hours with the bodies in the car, too scared to move.

Al-Hilli was a mechanical engineer who contracted with Surrey Satellite Technology, a subsidiary of aerospace and defence firm EADS. His wife Ikbal had been training as a dentist.

The family lived in rural Surrey, south of London. – Reuters/Guardian