UK & World News
Alps Murder Suspect Had Interest In WWII Guns
The suspect arrested over the murder of a British family in France last summer had a collection of guns, French police say.
The man, believed to be former police officer Eric Devouassoux, was arrested on Tuesday after an artists impression was released in November.
He is being held in custody in connection with the killings of Saad al Hilli, his wife Iqbal and her mother Suhaila al Allaf, who were found shot dead in the family's BMW in the foothills of the Alps in September.
In a new conference on Wednesday, French prosecutor Eric Maillaud said that the suspect - who he didn't name - had been arrested after police had 100 calls from the public.
When his property was raided the suspect was found to have a collection of at least 40 World War Two guns, including a Luger similar to the one that carried out the murder.
Other weapons including grenades were also found. Mobile phone data also placed the suspect close to the scene on the day, Mr Maillaud said.
Mr Devouassoux - a former brigadier chief in the French National Gendarmerie - is thought to have been sacked six months ago, meaning he was still a serving officer at the time of the murders.
A french cyclist was also among those murdered by a shooter at an isolated spot near Lake Annecy. French police say they have have not ruled out that the murderer was acting alone.
Mr Maillaud said the Luger pistol found in the suspect's property was a different model with a different calibre of bullet.
But he said, their inquiries had shown that he did have an interest in other Lugers and they were trying to find out if he had owned any others.
He was also found to own two motorcycling helmets, but neither bore a resemblance to the one with a distinctive marking that featured in the artist's impression.
He had previously sported a goaty beard like the one worn by the man in the artists impression, which was provided by a witness close by the shootings.
Mr Maillaud said the large number of weapons found had led police to believe the suspect may be an arms trafficker.
He said the suspect was also under investigation for that offence, along with another man who had been arrested at the same time.
The other man was found with a "great number of munitions, explosives and detonators", said Mr Maillaud. He is also in custody.
Police are understood to have removed a light grey motorbike from outside one of the suspect's properties.
Mr Maillaud, who said the suspect came from the Haute-Savoie region, added that the finds had given them enough information to prompt further searches.
Despite that, he said the case is "not cleared up" and "there is no obvious link" between the 48-year-old suspect and the murders
The arrest had earlier led Mr al Hilli's brother, who was previously arrested by British police also investigating the murders, to say he was "happy" with what had happened.
Speaking exclusively to Sky News from his home in southwest London, Zaid al Hilli said: "Yes, I am happy, but I don't know anything about it apart from what I read in the media."
The 54-year-old businessman said he had had no contact with French police.
"I don't know anything about the investigation," he said. "All I know is what I read in the papers."
Asked if he was relieved that the investigation has now taken a different course, Mr al Hilli told Sky News: "Well, of course I am, because that's how it should have been from the beginning.
"Anything is better than nothing. We'll see what happens, we cannot raise our hopes. That's it really. I haven't really got anything else to say."
It is the first time anyone has been arrested in France in connection with the case, which has baffled investigators despite major efforts on both sides of the Channel.
Mr Maillaud said: "This arrest, which may not be the only one, was the result of witness statements."
Saad al Hilli's daughter Zainab, seven at the time, recovered after being shot and pistol-whipped, while her sister Zeena, four, was found unhurt hiding beneath her mother's body inside the bullet-riddled car.
A new photo of Mr and Mrs al Hilli and their daughters, said to have been taken around 15 minutes before the shootings, has also emerged.
The body of French cyclist Sylvain Mollier was found nearby.
Until this latest breakthrough, Zaid al Hilli had been the only formal suspect until Surrey Police decided last month not to charge him.
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