A motorcyclist sought in connection with the murders of three members of a British family in the French Alps has been ruled out of the inquiry, according to reports, leaving police apparently no closer to a breakthrough more than two years after the killings.
Detectives have been attempting to trace the biker since he was seen near the spot where engineer Saad al-Hilli, his wife Ikbal and her mother Suhaila al-Allaf, were gunned down on a forest road in Chevaline in September 2012.
French media reported that the motorcyclist was finally traced last month. However, authorities said the man, from Lyon, had no connection to the attack and was in the area “by accident”, 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 in November 2013.
Mr al-Hilli’s brother Zaid was arrested on suspicion of murder in June 2013 but was told in January last year he would face no further action after police found insufficient evidence to charge him.
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 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.
The bodies of Iraqi-born Mr al-Hilli and his dentist wife, who lived in Claygate, Surrey, were discovered along with that of Ms 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 local cyclist Sylvain Mollier was murdered.
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