A former police officer arrested in connection with the killing of a British engineer and his family is suspected of arms trafficking, say French investigators.
Saad al-Hilli and his wife Ikbal, from Claygate in Surrey, and her mother Suhaila al-Allaf, who lived in Sweden, were all shot dead on a remote forest road in Chevaline, near Annecy, in September 2012. Local cyclist Sylvain Mollier was also murdered.
French police arrested a 48-year-old, believed to be a former policeman from the Haute-Savoie region of France, in connection with the killings on Tuesday.
Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud said yesterday that 40 wartime guns were found when officers searched the suspect’s home and that of his in-laws, but not the murder weapon.
The man was arrested after an e-fit was released of a motorcyclist spotted near the scene, but the unusual helmet that the rider wore was not found.
Mr Maillaud said police arrested a second man who is suspected of illegally dealing in firearms.
He said: “The weapon found was not the one from the crime, the helmets found were not those from the auto-fit portrait. However, the investigators found a large number of weapons, around 40 wartime weapons, some dating from the Second World War, also grenades, a shell, at his home and at his in-laws’. We also know that he appears to be involved in arms trafficking. We are not sure at this stage whether it is for collectors or organised crime
“The investigators also discovered yesterday evening that one of his friends was involved in this arms-trafficking business. This friend tried to escape when police arrived at his home yesterday and is in police custody.”
Last month Mr al-Hilli’s brother Zaid al-Hilli, who was arrested in connection with the shooting, had his bail cancelled by Surrey Police after the force decided there was not enough evidence to charge him with a crime.
When asked if he was happy to hear about the arrest in France, he said: “Yes, I am happy, yeah.”
Mr al-Hilli was asked whether this arrest could bring closure for him, to which he replied: “Well, of course, I mean, anything is better than nothing.”