Alps murder: police make arrest in nearby village

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Alps murder: police make arrest in nearby village

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Almost four months after releasing an e-fit of a man they wanted to trace, police investigating the murder of a family in the French Alps have detained a suspect.

A 48-year-old man was arrested in a village close to where Iraqi-born British engineer Saad al-Hilli, his wife, mother and a passing French cyclist were shot dead with a semi-automatic pistol that was at least 80 years old.

Police have 48 hours to question the suspect about the murders which took place in September 2012.

France 3 television reported the man who has been arrested had not previously been known to police.

Prosecutor Eric Maillaud said the breakthrough is a direct result of witness statements prompted by the release of the e-fit of a motorcyclist seen in the vicinity shortly before the murders.

The witness who first discovered the family, a British cyclist, told investigators he had seen a motorcyclist not far from the scene.

Two forest officials had also stopped a motorcyclist on the road before the killings were discovered and instructed him to turn around as the road was closed to traffic.

Hilli’s two daughters survived the attack, despite the gunman trying to kill the eldest – seven-year-old Zainab – by beating her around the head after running out of bullets.

Four-year-old Zeena was found safe hiding beneath the legs and skirt of her dead mother in the backseat of the car.

Al-Hilli’s brother Zaid, who prosecutors said had feuded with his brother over an inheritance, was arrested last year in Britain on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.

He was released in January by British police with no charges filed.