A suspect has been arrested in connection with the murders of three members of a British family and French cyclist in a gun attack ten years ago.

In a dramatic development in what many had considered a cold case, a prosecuting source in Annecy, eastern France, on Wednesday confirmed that “a man was placed in custody at 8.05am today, and is being questioned at length” in relation to the savage attack in the Alps.

The unnamed has been arrested before but police are “examining inconsistencies in his original testament and checking out his alibi”, said the source.

Surrey businessman Saad al-Hilli, 50, his wife Iqbal, 47, and mother-in-law Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were all gunned down as they tried to escape the area in their BMW car in September 2012.

French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45, also died in the bloodbath, after being shot seven times at point blank range.

The Al-Hillis’ daughter, Zeena, four, hid in the footwell of the vehicle and was unscathed, while her sister, Zainab, seven, was shot and beaten but made a good recovery.

Despite an investigation stretching across the world, the individual or people responsible have never been caught, leading to accusations that the French now view it as unsolvable.

But Line Bonnet-Mathis, the Annecy Prosecutor, confirmed in a statement that an arrest had been made.

“A person was taken into custody on January 12, 2022 at 8:05 am by investigators from Chambery in connection with the assassination of the Al Hilli family and Sylvain Mollier,” she said in a statement.

Referring to the nearest hamlet to the crime scene, she said at the end of last year: “The Chevaline case is continuing, and still involves an investigating judge and investigators.”

Ms Bonnet-Mathis added that the “preservation of physical evidence” was a priority and “for us, this is not a cold case”.

She confirmed that forensics officers from the research section of the Chambery gendarmerie had returned to the scene.

Baffled French investigators have considered numerous other potential reasons for the attacks.

But none of the numerous theories surrounding the so-called Alps Murders have stuck, meaning there have been no criminal indictments.

Annecy prosecutor Line Bonnet said in a statement: ‘A person was taken into custody on January 12, 2022 at 8:05 am by investigators from Chambery in connection with the assassination of the Al Hilli family and Sylvain Mollier.’

He was said to be ‘living in a couple’ in the Lyon area, and searches of his home and nearby properties were continuing.

Questioned further about the arrest, Ms Bonnet-Mathis said: “There have been a lot of arrests in this case, so we mustn’t get carried away.

“I won’t be saying anymore until the suspect has been heard. We have already had a suicide after a police custody in this case, so must remain cautious and measured about its outcome. I don’t want to give anything away that identifies this person, or where he comes from.”

It was in June 2014 that Patrice Menegaldo, a former soldier in the French Foreign Legion, took his own life in Ugine, close to Annecy, after being questioned about the case.

He left a suicide note referring to the Alps Murders, following his interrogation by the Chambery detectives.

Police later said his arrest involved a ‘routine hearing of about two hours’, saying that Menegaldo was treated as potential witness to the crime, and not a murder suspect.

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