Suspect in 2012 France family slaying freed without charges

PARIS (AP) — A French prosecutor has freed a suspect held in custody since Wednesday morning over the 2012 slayings of a British-Iraqi family and a cyclist in the French Alps.

The suspect was released Thursday afternoon without any charges, and the Annecy prosecutor said in a short message on Twitter that “investigations are continuing.”

Saad al-Hilli, his wife Ikbal and his mother-in-law Souhaila al-Allaf were shot dead on a remote mountain road near Annecy in eastern France. French cyclist Sylvain Mollier was also killed in the shooting. Al-Hilli’s two young daughters, who were in the car at the time of the shooting, survived the attack.

French investigators have questioned several persons of interest in the killings, but nine years into the probe no charges have been filed in the case.

The al-Hilli children, aged 4 and 7 at the time, were the only witnesses to the macabre killings that have puzzled French investigators. The case has international ramifications with links tying the slain family to Britain, Iraq, Sweden and Spain.

The four victims and the two young survivors were discovered by police in a wooded area on an isolated mountain road from the village of Chevaline, near bucolic Lake Annecy.

Eric Maillaud, the prosecutor in Annecy in 2012 said the 4-year-old girl who survived the shootings could not help their investigation because she was hiding under her mother’s legs during the killings. She was found inside the car about eight hours after the shootings.

Her 7-year-old sister, who was shot in the shoulder and survived, was found bloodied and battered outside the vehicle, a BMW station wagon in which three of the bodies were found.

The prosecutor has said 25 gun cartridges were found inside the family vehicle. All those killed were found with at least three bullet wounds, and each had a single shot in the head.

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