Alps Murder Probe Leads to Arrest of Former French Police Officer

Wednesday, 19 Feb 2014 05:17 PM

By Jonna Lorenz

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In a probe of four murders in the French Alps in 2012, police in France arrested a former police officer Tuesday in connection with the deaths of an Iraqi-born British engineer, his family, and a cyclist.

The 48-year-old man is believed to be a municipal policeman dismissed from the force last June, according to The Associated Press. He is suspected of arms trafficking.

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A second man also was arrested and thought to be illegally dealing in firearms.

Saad al-Hilli, his wife, Ikbal, and her mother, Suhaila al-Allaf, were found shot in a BMW estate car on a remote forest road in 2012. Cyclist Sylvain Mollier also was shot after apparently coming upon the scene. The couple’s two young daughters, Zainab and Zeena, survived the incident. The younger his beneath her mother’s corpse for eight hours; the older one was shot and beaten but survived.

The former police offer was identified as Eric Devouassoux, The Daily Mail reported. He was a French military reservist and is a father of three, according to the report. Cell phone data indicated he was at the scene at the time of the murders.

In November, police released an artist's rendering of a motorcyclist who was seen near the area before the killings. Police interviewed about 40 witnesses after the sketch was released, The Guardian said.

Witnesses recognized an unusual helmet worn by the motorcyclist. But the helmet was not found, according to the AP.

The arrest takes some attention off of al-Hilli’s brother, Zaid al-Hilli, who was arrested in Britain last month in connection with the crime. Police suspected a dispute over an inheritance but determined there was not enough evidence to charge him with a crime. Still, police in France have questions to ask Zaid al-Hilli and consider him a suspect, according to the Daily Mail.

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