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, leaving police 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 shot dead on a forest road in Chevaline in September 2012.
The motorcyclist was finally traced last month but authorities have determined that 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 French detectives and told them he went to Chevaline to paraglide.
Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud said the man was identified and questioned after police cross-checked thousands of telephone records against motorbike licence data.
He said the “honourable” man was “beyond any suspicion”.
Mr Maillaud also confirmed that investigators have “nothing in particular” with regard to other possible leads.
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.
Video: 2012 interview with witness
He agreed, driving back down the path past the car park where the Al-Hilli family and a cyclist were gunned down.
The motorcyclist said he did not “make the connection” between his presence near the scene of the killing and the police picture of him which was circulated in November 2013.
The development is the latest twist in a mysterious case that has proved elusive to investigators on both sides of the Channel.
Mr al-Hilli’s brother, Zaid, was arrested on suspicion of murder in June 2013 but was told in January last year that he would face no further action after police found there was insufficient evidence to charge him with a crime.
Last year, detectives revealed Mrs al-Hilli was previously married to a man who died on the same day as the shootings, although they stressed they were not connecting the deaths.
It also emerged that police questioned a 35-year-old Iraqi man last month following a tip-off from a former jailmate.
The man was traced following claims that he once 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.
The bodies were discovered in their BMW on a remote forest route by cyclist Brett Martin.
The couple’s two young daughters survived the attack, while a local cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, was also murdered.Reuse content