French police arrest 2nd man over Alpine killings

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Associated Press

Posted on February 19, 2014 at 2:08 PM

ANNECY, France (AP) — French authorities discovered a weapons stash and detained a second man in the shooting deaths of a British-Iraqi man and three other people 18 months ago in the Alps, a state prosecutor said Wednesday.

French police sweeps are continuing over the killings of Saad al-Hilli, his wife, an elderly relative and a French cyclist in a wooded area near bucolic Lake Annecy in September 2012, said prosecutor Eric Maillaud.

"This case has not been solved," he told a news conference.

A 48-year-old security guard and former police officer was detained Tuesday, the first person apprehended in France over the killings.

Police sweeps turned up vintage guns, a grenade and mortars in his home and that of a friend also detained for questioning, Maillaud said.

Authorities were now considering a separate probe into alleged weapons trafficking or sales linked to the men, he said.

The prosecutor provided new details about the former officer — whom he declined to call a suspect — calling him a weapons collector who had once threated tourists and shown sporadic bouts of violence.

Unidentified neighbors had considered him a racist, he added.

The men were not identified because no link between them and the killings had been established, Maillaud said. But he said one weapon in the ex-officer's stash was made by Luger — the same manufacturer as the murder weapon, if not the same caliber or model, Maillaud said.

Maillaud told The Associated Press late Wednesday that no DNA from the former policeman was found at the scene of the crime, though he remained in custody for questioning.

The al-Hilli couple's two daughters survived the shooting. In June, British police detained al-Hilli's brother, Zaid, for questioning and later freed him on bail.

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Jamey Keaten in Paris contributed to this report.

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