Al-Hilli massacre: Crimes are 'not solved' says prosecutor, as a second man is arrested

French detectives find no firm evidence yet to
link former police officer to shootings of Iraqi-British family in 2012

Paris

Hopes were dashed on Wednesday of a rapid resolution of the 18-month saga of the massacre of an Iraqi-British family in the French Alps. Despite a series of intriguing, circumstantial connections, investigators said there was no clear evidence to link the shootings to a former policeman and antique weapons enthusiast arrested on Tuesday.

The 48-year-old man – not officially identified but named by local media as Eric Devouasoux – faces formal accusations today or tomorrow of illegal trafficking in Second World War weapons, including shells and grenades. A friend, also 48, who was arrested on Tuesday night as he tried to flee the area, faces similar charges.

But the Annecy state prosecutor, Eric Maillaud, told a press conference that there was no clear evidence “so far” linking either man to the slaying  of three members of the Al-Hilli family and a French cyclist on 5 September 2012.

“There is no case against him at the moment but that may change,” Mr Maillaud said. “This man bears a strong resemblance to someone we know to have been close to the scene of the crime.”

It appears that magistrates will take advantage of the weapons-dealing accusations to prolong the initial four-day arrest period. Mr Maillaud said Mr Devouasoux had a record of making racist remarks and had also verbally “attacked” foreign tourists in the past. His mobile phone records showed that, on 5 September 2012 – when he was still a municipal police officer in a nearby town – he was close to the scene of the murders near the village of Chevaline.

The phone records suggest he “could have been present” but offer no proof, Mr Mailaud said. Bullets similar to those used in the killings were found in raids on two houses owned by Mr Devouasoux near Lake Annecy on Tuesday.

The prosecutor said the former police officer also bore a strong physical resemblance to a motorcyclist seen near the murder scene, who has ignored all appeals to come forward.

On the other hand, there was no firm evidence so far tying the former policeman to the killings. An antique Luger revolver found in one of the houses was not the one used by the killer. He had no known connection with the al-Hilli family or the French cyclist who was also murdered.

“As I speak, the slaughter at Chevaline is not yet explained,” Mr Maillaud said. “Nothing points to the fact that we have perhaps found the murderer. The investigation must continue.”

The theory of a random crime by an “isolated, local” gunman was being taken seriously, he said. But all other lines of investigation, including a quarrel over a will within the al-Hilli family, were open. Zaid al-Hilli, elder brother of Saad who died in the shootings, was still considered a possible suspect, he said.

September 2012: Police guard the road to the spot where Saad al-Hilli and his family were killed September 2012: Police guard the road to the spot where Saad al-Hilli and his family were killed

Mr Devouasoux had been under surveillance for several weeks before he was arrested. A number of residents had tipped off gendarmes about his resemblance to an artist’s sketch of the biker seen close to the massacre. Forestry workers told gendarmes at the time that they saw a beefy, bearded man on a private road in the mountains just above the crime scene, wearing a rare type of motorcycle helmet.

Just after he was seen, a gunman attacked the al-Hilli family in their maroon BMW estate in a lay-by at the end of a steeply winding forest road. Saad al-Hilli, 50, a satellite engineer, of Claygate, Surrey, his wife, Iqbal, a 47-year-old dentist, and her mother Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were shot repeatedly. A French cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, 45, was found lying dead beside their car, shot several times.

The al-Hillis’ seven-year-old daughter, Zainab, was found alive outside the car, beaten savagely and wounded by a gunshot to her shoulder. Her sister Zeena, four, was found eight hours after the killings, unharmed but terrified, hiding beneath her dead mother’s legs.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Digital Project Manager/BA

£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply special educational ne...

Regional ESF Contract Manager

£32500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Birmingham: European Social Fund...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home