French police have arrested a suspect described as a former policeman over the 2012 killings of a British-Iraqi family and a cyclist.
Checks on the 48-year-old man’s phone “put him in the zone at the moment” of the murders of the al-Hilli family and the cyclist in the French Alps on September 5, 2012, another source says.
He says several arms were seized at a raid in the man’s home following his arrest.
Another raid was carried out on a house in the nearby village of Lathuile.
Ballistic tests will be carried out to determine if these weapons were used.
Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud said the man, from the Haute-Savoie region, was placed in formal custody and detained following the release in November of an identikit image of a mysterious motorcyclist seen near where the quadruple murder took place.
A source close to the case said the man, a father of three, was a former policeman from the town of Menthon-Saint-Bernard.
Menthon-Saint-Bernar Mayor Antoine de Menthon says the man had been forced to quit his quarters after the sacking. But he refused to give details of the man’s age or identity.
A source close to the investigation says police carried out a search of the man’s home in Tailoires in the presence of his girlfriend.
Maillaud said the man bore a “strong resemblance” to the man in the identikit image.
It is the first time anyone has been arrested in France in connection with the case, which has stumped investigators despite major efforts on both sides of the English Channel.
Saad al-Hilli, a 50-year-old Iraqi-born British tourist in France, was gunned down in September 2012 along with his 47-year-old wife Iqbal and her 74-year-old mother in a woodland car park close to the village of Chevaline in the hills above Lake Annecy.
Each was shot multiple times in their British-registered BMW estate car and more than two dozen spent bullet casings were found near the vehicle.
The couple’s two daughters, aged seven and four at the time, survived the gruesome attack, but the older girl was shot and badly beaten.
The younger girl survived unscathed after hiding under her mother’s skirts for hours after the killings, initially escaping the notice of police.
A 45-year-old French cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, was also killed after apparently stumbling upon the scene.
Investigators were looking at an inheritance dispute between the two brothers but Tuesday’s arrest focuses attention on the possibility of a local killer.