It was a century ago. To the day. On May 25, 1923, Guillaume Seznec, a timber merchant, left Rennes aboard a Cadillac with Pierre Quéméneur, general councilor of Finistère, for a business trip to Paris. However, on the night of May 27 to 28, Guillaume Seznec returned alone to Morlaix, claiming to have left his friend at Dreux station, the latter preferring to complete the journey by train. To the worried family, he says he has no further news from the general counsel whose body will never be found.
Heard 67 times, confronted 30 times with witnesses by the police, Guillaume Seznec repeatedly contradicts himself, lies, lacks an alibi and tries to bribe witnesses. The discovery of false promises of sale of a property of Pierre Quéméneur for the benefit of Guillaume Seznec completes to make him the number 1 suspect.
On November 4, 1924, he was sentenced, without body or confession, to forced labor for life for murder and forgery. He will spend twenty years in the penal colony of Cayenne in Guyana. But in the early 1930s the thesis of miscarriage of justice gained momentum, when several hypotheses emerged to exonerate Guillaume Seznec, at least in part.
Pardoned in 1946, he returned to France in 1947, at the age of 69, and died on February 13, 1954. His daughter and then his grandson continued to work for his rehabilitation. A fight that has given rise in a century to hundreds of articles and almost as many hypotheses on the disappearance of the general councilor of Finistère.
► Quéméneur killed by his own brother
Pierre Quéméneur, returned to his mansion in Plourivo (Côtes-d’Armor), would he have been killed there by his brother Louis? This thesis was born in the 1930s under the impetus of former judge Charles-Victor Hervé, who had been informed of gunshots heard by sailors one night in May 1923, near the property. A brother-in-law, notary, would be the author of the false promises of sale of the domain to accuse Guillaume Seznec.
An investigation carried out in October 1924 however showed that the shots heard had taken place during a wedding, while Seznec and Quéméneur were in Rennes.
► Quéméneur murdered by the “Cadillac gang”
Another lead: after leaving Guillaume Seznec, Pierre Quéméneur would have gone to Paris by train, where he was to deal with a large-scale sale of used American-made vehicles, in particular Cadillacs. Arrived in Paris with a suitcase full of tickets, he would have been liquidated by a gang of international traffickers, including the so-called “Sherdly” or “Chardy” designated by Guillaume Seznec.
► A police machination to protect “powerful characters”
Unless Guillaume Seznec’s guilt was “fabricated” to protect politicians involved, with Pierre Quéméneur, in a vast traffic of American automobiles to the Soviet Union.
The thesis was mentioned in July 1923 and then revived after the Liberation, because of the involvement of Inspector Pierre Bonny, who participated in the investigation into the disappearance of Pierre Quéméneur, within an auxiliary organization of the Gestapo. .
This hypothesis of a conviction of Guillaume Seznec to cover up a scandal is only “one of the possible hypotheses but it is above all one of the most probable”, had estimated the Advocate General Jean-Yves Launay before the Court of revision in 2006.
► The secret of the Seznec family
Or Pierre Quéméneur would have been accidentally killed in Morlaix by Marie-Jeanne Seznec, wife of Guillaume, to whom he made advances. This thesis is defended by Denis Langlois, former family lawyer, who says he was privy to the secret in 1978 by one of Guillaume Seznec’s grandsons, Bernard Le Her.
The latter would have learned it from his uncle, the son of Guillaume Seznec, who witnessed the facts when he was only 11 years old, on a Sunday in May 1923. Guillaume Seznec would thus be half innocent: he would have written the false promises of sale but would not have killed Pierre Quéméneur. “It is not a completely crazy hypothesis, it is quite plausible and not in contradiction with the documents in the file”, estimates Me Langlois, who pleads for a rehabilitation of Guillaume Seznec “for the benefit of the doubt”.
A century and fourteen requests for revisions later, the controversy over the conviction of Guillaume Seznec for murder has not weakened. “The problem is that it is always very late testimony: it is the man who saw the man who saw the bear”, points out the writer and journalist Bernez Rouz, author of “L Quéméneur-Seznec case”. “All the hypotheses are possible but we cannot find the essential document which proves that it is indeed that. »