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Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Brutal Murder of Internationl Master Gilles Andruet

     Gilles Andruet (March 30, 1958 - August 22, 1995), son of rally driver Jean-Claude Andruet, was a French IM, member of the French team at the 1982, 1984 and 1988 Chess Olympiad and in 1988 won the French Championship. His peak Elo rating was 2450. 
     During the 1989 Championship, Andruet was involved in a violent altercation with Jean-Luc Seret and subsequently withdrew from the tournament despite the fact that he was in the lead after 10 of 14 rounds.  He played less regularly after 1991. 
     Jean-Luc Seret (born September 1951 in Rouen, France) is a French IM and four-time French Champion. Seret was a member of the French team at the 1974, 1976, 1980, 1982 and 1984 Chess Olympiad. The championship was marked by an incident during the Seret-Andruet game in the 10th round. The following position was reached with Andruet to move: 



     White is threatening 26.Qe6 mate. There is no adequate defense so Andruet resigned. However, Seret wrote 26.Qe6 mate on his scoresheet and when they exchanged scoresheets for signing, Andruet drew a line through the move.  When the scoresheet was handed back to Seret he punched Andruet in the face and drew blood. The men were separated and a "supervisory commission" met and decided to punish Seret after the tournament. The decision left Andruet furious and he produced a medical certificate and withdrew from the tournament. The commission's decision seems lenient, but it probably had something to do with the fact that Seret's reputation at the board had always been above reproach while the same thing could not be said of Andruet. 
     Andruet was also a gambler. Starting in 1993, he regularly played backgammon and blackjack in casinos and although he initially won significant amounts of money, he eventually became a pathological gambler and overwhelmed with debt. 
     In the beginning, Andruet took time to learn about all the theories related to gambling, like a method of counting the 342 cards contained in a blackjack shoe. Before gambling he would get proper rest, eat right and relax. He traveled the world to visit gambling casinos, even going to China. He was initially successful, reportedly winning millions, and was said to stuff money “in his pockets like Kleenex.” Eventually he acquired gambling debts and fell victim to drug addiction. 
     In 1995 an elderly lady had left her house to him when she died which he sold and received a check for nearly 400,000 francs, but the bank would not cash it. Andruet sought out a friend to cash it for him for a fee. That friend was Joseph Liany. 
     The bank agreed to cash the check and the money was to be available on August 22nd. In the meantime, Andruet, who had no fixed place to live, arrived at a Liany's house at 5 o'clock in the morning on August 20, 1995 with a few clothes and a backgammon set given to him by his father. Then at about 11 pm the next day Andruet, driving his Ford Sierra, stopped in front of a restaurant in Paris to see a Polish waitress friend. The waitress recognized Joseph Liany as one of the three passengers in Andruet's car and because of her testimony she was subsequently the victim of repeated anonymous calls and death threats against her and her child. 
     The following day a gardener discovered Andruet's body wrapped in a bed sheet lying half way in a river with his skull and larynx crushed. The forearms were also broken indicating that Andruet had attempted to protect himself. It was determined that he had been drugged with morphine and flunitrazepam, a date rape drug. His car was found abandoned a few kilometers away. It was filled with blood stains and in the glove box was a photocopy of the check from the sale of the house. By August 25, 1995 the bank account had been emptied.
     Joseph Liany was found, questioned and released. Two other suspects were also implicated. One night in December 1995, while sitting in a restaurant bar, Loïc Simon, a waiter and a close friend of Sacha Rhoul, complained that he received only 30,000 of the 50,000 francs promised by Joseph Liany to kill Andruet. Simon never went to trial because in August of 1996 he committed suicide by hanging himself. The other was Sacha Rhoul, a nephew of Liany. 
     The case went cold until 2001 when the sheet in which the body of Andruet had been wrapped was sent to the laboratory for examination and a hair was found which was believed to belong to Joseph Liany. 
     In the meantine, Sacha Rhoul had left France in 1997 to live in Marrakech, Morocco where he managed the Palais Rhoul, a five-star hotel that belonged to his family. In addition to his French citizenship he also held Moroccan citizenship and so was safe from extradition because there was no extradition treaty between the two countries. In Morocco he lived under his Moroccan birth name of Chahine. 
     It wasn't until November 2003, with Sacha Rhoul safe in Morocco, that his cousin Franck and his uncle Joseph Liany were brought to trial. Each put the responsibility on the other. Despite eighteen witnesses claiming memory loss or submitting medical excuses for their absence, Franck was sentenced to seven years in prison for "receiving the proceeds of a murder" and Joseph to fifteen years for murder based on testimonies and DNA evidence from a hair found on the sheet in which Andruet's body had been wrapped. Only Joseph Liany appealed his conviction. 
     At the second trial in March 2006, Liany's defense was based on the fact that the DNA evidence could have belonged to his nephew, Sacha Rhoul.  Because their was doubt as to whom the hair belonged, he was acquitted. Sacha Rhoul was found guilty in absentia and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. 
     Jean-Claude Andruet, Gilles' father, repeatedly called for the arrest and extradition of Rhoul and had been threatening to kidnap him and return him to France for trial. Finally in March of 2010, Moroccan authorities arrested Rhoul and extradited him. He was jailed for four months and in June, 2010 was released on bond and placed under judicial supervision.
     At his trial, Rhoul's part in the death of Andruet could not be established with certainty because of his uncle's acquittal and the boasting of Loïc Simon that he had beaten Andruet to death. So, because there was no way of establishing what, if any, part Rhoul played in Andruet's murder, he was also acquitted. 
 

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