In France, thousands of murders remain unsolved

In 2022, 948 homicides were committed in France and it is estimated that 20% of investigations have been or will be “closed” due to insufficient evidence.


According to Me Didier Seban, specialist in “cold cases”, 5,000 murder cases have not been elucidated over the past twenty years.
© Mathieu Pattier / West France / MAXPPP / PHOTOPQR/WEST FRANCE/MAXPPP

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20%. This is the number of murder investigations that do not succeed each year and end up being “dismissed”. These are the famous “cold cases”. According to Me Didier Seban, subject specialist, interviewed by West France, that would represent 5,000 cases over the past twenty years. 5,000 unsolved homicides with the murderer likely still on the loose.

Our colleagues, however, qualify his remarks by explaining that there are approximately 800 to 900 homicides per year, therefore potentially 160 to 180 unsolved murders each year and therefore a little less than 4,000 since the beginning of the millennium. To which we can all the same add more or less 500 murders linked to drug trafficking, which do not strictly speaking fall into the category of “cold cases” since, if the author is not formally identified, the motive is known. In addition, it is likely that a number of murders are hidden behind “disturbing disappearances”.

No register, but a new judicial center

The difficulty, explain our colleagues, is that there is no register where all these murder cases would be recorded, closed without further action for lack of sufficient elements to continue the investigation. This implies that no one knows precisely how many “cold cases” France has precisely.

Since 1er March 2022, a new judicial center specially dedicated to unsolved cases and serial crimes was however created in Nanterre. And less than a month from his first birthday, he would have already taken up 63 investigations and would have received at least 240 requests to reopen files.

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