• France's news in English

Alps murders: Police sketch proves fruitless

Dan MacGuill · 2 Dec 2013, 15:59

Published: 02 Dec 2013 15:59 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

French police investigating the murder of a British-Iraqi family admitted on Monday that despite receiving around 100 calls from the public, not one had led to any kind of break in the probe.

Saad al-Hilli, a British national originally from Iraq, was gunned down in September 2012 along with his wife and her mother in a woodland car park close to the village of Chevaline in the hills above Lake Annecy.

His two daughters survived the gruesome attack but French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, apparently an innocent bystander, was also killed.

On November 4th, police in Annecy released this sketch of a mysterious motorcyclist seen by witnesses near the site of the shooting, hoping it would provide a breakthrough in the case.

Witnesses gave a description to police of the motorcyclist early on in the case, but it was not initially released for fear he would go into hiding.

Investigators had hoped that the helmet depicted in the sketch would prove a fruitful avenue of inquiry, since it is a rare model, used by French police during the 2000s, with only 8,000 made in black, as seen by witnesses.

Speaking on Monday, however, Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud told TF1 television: “The appeal for witnesses hasn’t yielded anything of interest up to this point.”

“We’ve had nearly 100 calls, some of them from abroad, but nothing that has provided information that would be a break in the case in one direction or another,” he added.

Maillaud also noted that many of the “leads” from members of the public had turned out to be frivolous.

“In particular, we’ve had some silly calls from people recognizing their neighbour or caretaker or a local police officer,” he said.

Furthermore, the local prosecutor, who heads the investigation being conducted in collaboration with British police, announced there would be no further public appeals for help in solving the case.

“Insofar as time is passing, we know that we’ll be getting fewer and fewer calls, and eventually none at all,” Maillaud said on Monday.

“The work is continuing, but the chances of tracking down this helmet are dwindling, that’s for sure,” he added.

“We’ve known for a while that this would be a long and complicated investigation. But as long as there is physical evidence to be explored, the probe will continue,” said Maillaud.

SEE ALSO: Alps murders - cops still stumped, one year on

In March, Maillaud admitted to The Local that the inquiry may never reach a definitive conclusion.

“Of course it is possible we will never find them, but it’s too early to conclude that,” Maillaud said at the time.  “It’s out of the question that we will be thinking like that now.”

Story continues below…

Despite the lack of a definitive theory as to a motive for the murders, investigators have concluded that Mollier was not a target and died because he had the misfortune to arrive on the scene at the wrong time while out cycling.

A theory that the attack could have been the work of a lone psychopath also seems to have been dismissed.

Instead, the investigation had focused increasingly in recent months on the possibility that the slaying had its origins in a dispute between one of the victims, Saad al-Hilli, and his brother Zaid, over a family inheritance.

Maillaud has described the financial dispute as involving several million euros.

He said in June that investigators were trying to track the destination of calls made to Romania from Zaid al-Hilli's home phone in the weeks prior to the attack.

Shortly after that revelation, Zaid al-Hilli was arrested by British police and questioned on the basis of suspicion of conspiracy to murder. 

He was subsequently released without charge but then placed under bail pending further enquiries.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available