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The murder of Mathieu Hocquet, true-false “cold case” that haunts Vierzon

In Vierzon (Cher).

The abbey garden is perhaps the only thing that has not really moved in Vierzon since the death of Mathieu Hocquet, almost twenty-three years ago. It was here, at the entrance to this downtown square, that the 22-year-old young man was kidnapped on the night of July 12 to 13, 1999. As often after work, he walked his dog there. His phone, lighter and pack of cigarettes were found there. His body was discovered in a ditch in the early morning of July 13, ten minutes away by car, on the northern edge of the city, by a breeder who came to treat his horses.

The autopsy revealed a sunken skull and a body covered in bruises, as well as superficial stab wounds on one buttock. The experts evoke a mortal blow behind the head, followed by an agony of about ten minutes. For twenty years, nothing will come to explain why Mathieu Hocquet was beaten to death behind the ZAC where the ring road now passes. His youthful face, long displayed in “one” of the Republican Berry, still haunts the city.

He had arrived in Vierzon a year and a half before his murder, and worked in a fast food restaurant, the Packman, in the city center. He was gay and “didn’t hide it”, as told, in 1999, a colleague to the investigators. The investigations are first directed towards a homophobic crime. Then towards a revenge linked to his debts, to the local drug trade… Or even towards quarrels with the local bosses.

A testimony eighteen years after the events

Three of the four men – Bouchaïb Mohib, Samir Berkani and Driss Belkhouribchia – found guilty, in April 2021, of the kidnapping, forcible confinement and arbitrary detention followed by the death of Mathieu Hocquet continue to deny and have appealed. Sentenced in Bourges, at first instance, to sentences ranging from eighteen to twenty years in prison, against twelve for the fourth, they will appear on appeal before the Assize Court of Nevers from March 21 to 1er April.

Before this new hearing, defense lawyers point to “major shortcomings” in this lengthy procedure. For them, this file remains a “cold box”, a case “unresolved” despite the convictions at first instance. In fact, the investigators in charge of the case have long skated: the evidence is lacking, as much as the suspects. In April 2005, the ax falls: the investigating judge orders a dismissal. A failure that Serge Hocquet, Mathieu’s father, does not digest. He has been investigating on his own for a while now, has opened a website devoted to the murder of his son, sent letters to the prosecutor, relentlessly surveyed the garden of the abbey to see who came there.

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