French police detain 2nd man in alpine killings

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

Weapons stash found in home of 1st man arrested over 2012 death of British-Iraqi man and 3 others killed

French police stand guard near the crime scene in Annecy, southeastern France, where four people were killed in September 2012. Two men were detained this week in connection with the crime. (Robert Pratta/Reuters)

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

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 municipal police officer who was detained on Tuesday was the first person apprehended in France over the killings, highlighting the complexities of a case with faraway ties to Iraq and Britain.

Grenades, mortars found

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 are 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 buff who had once threatened tourists and shown sporadic bouts of violence. Unidentified neighbours had considered him a racist, he said.

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 calibre or model, Maillaud said.

The al-Hilli couple's two daughters survived the shooting, with the younger one huddled beneath her mother's lifeless body in the car.

In June, British police detained al-Hilli's brother, Zaid, for questioning and later freed him on bail.