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Alice Gross: Brother defends prime suspect Arnis Zalkalns

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Media captionArnis Zalkalns' brother, Janis Daksa: "No-one is interested if he is a good man"

The brother of Arnis Zalkalns, the prime suspect in the case of missing schoolgirl Alice Gross, says his brother has been portrayed unfairly.

Janis Daksa said he had been made to look like a "monster, a villain". People were not interested in whether he was a "good man", he said.

Mr Zalkalns, jailed for his wife's murder in 1998, is wanted after Alice, 14, went missing on 28 August.

Met Police detectives are now in the Latvian capital Riga.

Alice was last seen by the Grand Union Canal in west London.

Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Arnis Zalkalns has not been seen since 3 September

Arnis Zalkalns, 41, was convicted of murder after taking his wife, Rudite, to a forest and attacking her with a steel pole and eight-inch knife.

He served seven years in jail for the killing, before moving to the UK in 2007.

His brother told the BBC: "What I know and what I have read, differ. No-one is interested if he is a good man.

"Everyone is looking for a sensation, where he is shown as a monster, a villain. That's what they want."


Analysis: Tom Symonds, Home Affairs correspondent

The Met Police has confirmed that neither Latvian nor British officers would be able to arrest Arnis Zalkalns should he appear abroad.

It said there was not enough evidence to apply for a European Arrest Warrant (EAW), which extends powers of arrest to foreign police forces.

For an EAW to be issued the police would need to have enough evidence to allow someone to be charged. Currently this isn't the case.

Mr Zalkalns has been named as a suspect but detectives say he is simply someone they want to talk to.

They stress the Alice Gross investigation remains a missing persons inquiry.

In effect, the legal position means that Zalkalns would have to volunteer himself for questioning.


On Thursday detectives will stage a reconstruction of Alice's disappearance - four weeks after she disappeared.

Although the investigation team has followed 729 lines of inquiry, spoken to 1,067 people and had more than 1,000 calls, there have been no confirmed sightings of the teenager.

Image copyright Handout
Image caption More than 1,000 calls have been made to Scotland Yard's incident room about Alice's disappearance

The inquiry into Alice's disappearance focused on Mr Zalkalns after he went missing on 3 September without a passport, from Ealing, west London.

The labourer, who works at a building site in Isleworth, was seen on CCTV riding a mountain bike along the canal path 15 minutes after Alice walked the same way.

Police have revealed they have traced three out of the five cyclists seen on CCTV cycling along the canal on the afternoon Alice was seen.

Three people came forward saying they were in the footage and have made statements, but it was "simply not possible" to say if Mr Zalkans or his red mountain bike was one of the other unidentified cyclists.

Met Police Commander Graham McNulty has said the decision to name Mr Zalkans as a suspect in the disappearance of Alice Gross was a "kind of last resort".

"It's not very often we seek to name suspects...because you're tipping people off," he said.

Latvian court documents about his murder case, which BBC correspondent Damien McGuinness has seen, revealed a psychologist assessed Mr Zalkalns as mentally stable and said he knew exactly what he was doing when he murdered his wife and buried her in a shallow grave.

Image copyright Zalkalns family
Image caption Arnis Zalkalns bludgeoned and stabbed his wife to death in 1998
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The hunt for Alice Gross has included land and river searches along stretches of the River Brent

Officers are continuing to search a stretch of the River Brent, where Alice's rucksack was found, and its banks near Ealing Hospital, as part of its investigation.

The hunt for Alice, from Hanwell, west London, is the largest Metropolitan Police search operation since the 7/7 terrorist bombings in 2005, with 600 officers from eight forces involved.

Scotland Yard said its Specialist Crime Review Group was carrying out an independent review into the force's investigation into Alice's disappearance and the missing person investigation into Arnis Zalkalns to "ensure that any learning is identified".

Detectives have said the suspect was also arrested on suspicion of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old girl in 2009, but no further action was taken.

A reward of up to £20,000 is being offered for anyone who has information that leads detectives to find Alice.

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