The case of the death of Mathieu Hocquet is really not an ordinary case. After a dismissal in 2005 for acts committed in 1999, after a reopening of the judicial investigation in 2017, after four arrests the following year, a trial before the Cher assize court last year and a new trial which started before the Nièvre Assize Court of Appeal since Monday, March 21, with three of the four protagonists in this case. The defense lawyers have not finished with what one of them called “the anomalies” of the investigation and the instruction.
What happened on the Chemin du Grand Orme on the night of July 12 to 13, 1999? The death of Vierzonnais Mathieu Hocquet returns before the Assize Court of Appeal of Nièvre
Because, this Monday, at the end of the morning, an exceptional step: the Assize Court of Appeal of Nièvre opened with pleadings from lawyers. In general, they intervene at the end of the hearing and precede the deliberations of the jurors and the professional magistrates, to deliver their verdict.
The national judicial center dedicated to cold-cases, created on March 1 in Nanterre
The defense lawyers began by pleading at length for the release of the three defendants and, above all, the referral of the case of the death of Mathieu Hocquet, before the national judicial center dedicated to cold-cases (unsolved cases) , created on March 1 in Nanterre,
The young man aged 22 at the time was found, lifeless, on the morning of July 13, 1999, lying in a ditch along the chemin de la Bidauderie in Vierzon, his skull smashed with stones. The lawyers also pleaded, more surprisingly, in the event of a refusal to refer to the jurisdiction dedicated to cold cases, in the alternative, the dismissal of the trial, pure and simple, after numerous requests for additional information by the lawyers of the three accused, Samir Berkany (42 years old), Driss Belkhouribchia (44 years old) and Bouchaïb Mohib (43 years old).
The three men were respectively sentenced before the Cher Assize Court, in April 2021, to 18 years’ imprisonment for the first and 20 years for the next two, for arrest, kidnapping, sequestration or arbitrary detention followed by the death of Mathieu Hocquet. But they had appealed, unlike the fourth protagonist of this old case, Cyril Bourguignon, 46, sentenced to 12 years in prison and whose conviction is final.
Mathieu Hocquet case: the defendants sentenced to 12, 18 and 20 years’ imprisonment
Me Marie-Alix Canu-Bernard was not Driss Belkhouribchia’s lawyer during the trial at first instance last year. It had also started, coincidentally, like the one on appeal, on March 21. “We have the benefit of a fresh eye on the case, which has allowed us to realize a certain number of anomalies, developed the lawyer. The material expertise has been done, redone and badly done, and when you start with badly done, it’s always a bit complicated. »
A bulb of hair elements, found on Mathieu Hocquet’s pants, a bulb, not exploited, in which there is DNA. This hair element is blond, it does not belong to Mathieu Hocquet
The lawyer brandishes numerous pieces of the procedure, “a bulb of hairy elements, found on Mathieu Hocquet’s pants, a bulb, not exploited, in which there is DNA. This hairy element is blond, it does not belong to Mathieu Hocquet”. And the phantom witness, the one who haunted the trial last year and haunts the start of this new one, cited in the first instance, then returns to the forefront of the judicial scene. During the Assizes of Cher, last year, he did not come. He has been a refugee in Morocco for several years (read further) to avoid serving a multi-year prison sentence for drug trafficking.
The lawyer has compared the blondness of the hair to the blondness of the witness who will not come before the Assize Court of Appeal of Nièvre either. “Why wasn’t this researched?” asks the lawyer. “Perhaps it wouldn’t have worked, at the very least…”
This is where Me Vincent Chirez, Samir Berkany’s lawyer, pleaded in turn, on the absence of this witness, “an ideal substitute culprit”, quipped Vincent Bonnefoy. The Advocate General had to respond, step by step, at length, to each request from the defense lawyers. It was a little after 4 p.m. when the professional magistrates of the court retired to deliberate on the numerous requests from the defense lawyers. As such, the defendants, to whom the court gave the floor last, asked to be able to benefit from all the elements favorable to the establishment of the truth.
Mathieu Hocquet case: the Assize Court will not hear the invisible witness
Another missing witness
Among his requests, Me Chirez demanded the lifting of the anonymity of the witness who, in 2017, had confided in the investigators, wishing that his identity would not be disclosed. From this faceless testimony, the investigations had resumed and the judicial investigation had been reopened, leading to the arrest of Cyril Bourguignon. The latter had implicated the three accused, seated in the glass box of the detainees.
Me Archibald Celeyron, Bouchaïb Mohib’s lawyer, completed the interventions of his defense colleagues with an exhortation from the court to hear another witness, cited by the Nevers Assize Court of Appeal and who expressed for his refusal to take the stand.
This other witness had been heard at first instance. She emailed the court to say she refused to come. “It is all the same the colleague of Mathieu Hocquet (Editor’s note: the one who worked, at the time, in the Packman fast food store with the victim), one of the last to have seen him in Vierzon”. But above all, Me Celeyron evokes another criminal case, unsolved, which intersects with the file of the death of Mathieu Hocquet, that of the murder of the ex-boss of Cujas, Thierry Chauvineau, in 2008.
Backlights to divert attention
Bouchaïb Mohib has, in fact, received, in prison, in mid-February, explained his lawyer, “the visit of two gendarmes to hear him in the Thierry Chauvineau affair”. The lawyer then asked, as he had done in writing, to the president of the Nièvre Assize Court of Appeal, Sami Ben-Hadj-Yahia, that this procedure be placed in the Mathieu Hocquet file. ” The stakes are high. But the Advocate General insisted: “There is no connection between these two cases. They are perfectly distinct. The Thierry Chauvineau case is still at the stage of the judicial investigation and it cannot be brought to the attention of the people who are in the courtroom. Vincent Bonnefoy thus rejected all requests for additional information as well as the release of the three defendants.
Back to the main dates of the Thierry Chauvineau affair, former boss of Cujas shot dead in 2008
Me Godefrin-Ruiz, the lawyer for Mathieu Hocquet’s mother, was surprised that “the civil judgment of the Cher Assize Court was accepted by the three defendants. This judgment consists in repairing the prejudice of the family of Mathieu Hocquet. So, we recognize having to compensate the civil parties and we are asking you to question the investigation! “For Me Gaëlle Duplantier, the lawyer, among others, of Serge Hocquet, “the criteria to enter the cold-cases pole” are not met. The lawyers for the civil parties share with the Advocate General this same feeling which consists in “lighting fires to divert the attention of the Assize Court from the essential”.
In Nevers, Remy Beurion
The phantom witness remains at the heart of the concerns
It was Me Vincent Chirez, the lawyer for Samir Berkany, who opened the ball of interventions, Monday morning, before the opening of the debates. The president had just specified that two witnesses cited before the Assize Court of Appeal had indicated that they would not come. In particular, this phantom witness, constantly quoted, already absent in the first instance, a refugee in Morocco for several years. The lawyer was surprised by this new absence. The president of the court confirmed that “the Moroccan consular service had touched the witness with the summons, but that he did not intend to appear. The consular services also informed us that his passport had not been renewed”. The person concerned is the subject of an international arrest warrant, both within the European Union and outside. The president also stressed that “the Moroccan authorities refused videoconferencing”, so that the Assize Court of Nièvre could hear the witness in question.