Well, since the recent events at Salisbury, when the cloak and dagger activities of possible state-sponsored assassination attempts began to rattle around that Cathedral City, I’ve been waiting to see the rare use of the word ‘democide’ but it seems Rudloph Rummel’s (1932–2014) excellent definition is still waiting in the wings, ie: “the murder of any person or people by their government, including genocide, politicide and mass murder.”
This double-agent story, of course, triggered memories of the 2006 murder of Alexandar Litvinenko in London, but as a criminologist, I was taken back further to another controversial case of the 1930’s known as,”The Stavisky Affair,” in France.
However, this was not a double-agent cold-war spy case at all, but an incredibly intricate and clever embezzlement that engulfed major French political figures forcing the Premier of the time, Camille Chautemps (1885-1963) to resign. En-route we have a government-run pawn-shop swindle; a bogus medical clinic scam, duping pregnant women; a murdered judge and fashion model, and two innocent children and apparent ‘suicides’ of the Russian-born instigator, Serge Alexandre Stavisky and other ‘players’ – dying in mysterious circumstances and mysterious places. Also the sheer scale of this scandal encompassed not only France and Russia, but Spain, America and England and is so intricate and complex a mere blog cannot cope with it!
So why am I even going there?
Two reasons – firstly you may well like to set off on your own volition and have a deeper a look this if it’s a new story to you – it really is worth doing, but my second reason was to re-visit one unsolved mystery that occurred as part of this whole scandal – the mysterious death of Mr. Albert Prince, a judge of the Paris Court of Appeal and to do this by paying tribute to the excellent Illustrated London News of March 17th 1934 by using their skilfully- crafted illustrated investigative ‘adventure’ – taking their readers some way into the murky shadows of what appears to be some form of state-sponsored murder 
[Just to add, in the light of the recent Oscar winning film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, – this case even contains a similar tactic used to expose the French police with a campaign of inflammatory posters bearing the name of the Independent Deputy for Marseilles, Simon Sabiana, accusing him of standing back from solving Judge Albert Prince’s murder case because of a police cover- up about its own involvement. 
Okay, for the moment assume you’ve dipped into a TV soap having never watched an episode before. Here is the Sunday Times piece for March 18th 1934 (p.21) that can quickly give you the gist of how sensational it all was and you’ll notice a mere passing mention of the murder of Monsieur Albert Prince. That’s where we will stop and take our detour courtesy of the London Illustrated News, eight-four years ago this week.
Also – here is a brief extract from a very competent précis of the whole set-up to start you on your own journey if you wish to take it: “A colossal swindle perpetrated by Serge Alexandre Stavisky brought scandal and ruin down on the heads of some of France’s most esteemed government leaders in the years preceding the outbreak of World War II. L’affaire Stavisky filled reams of official court transcripts as prosecutors attempted to sift through conflicting evidence to learn how it was possible for a Russian-born swindler operating out of a government-supervised pawn shop to cause so much chaos in the marketplace. As the court pondered, hordes of angry citizens standing outside the Chamber of Deputies chanted, “Assassins! Thieves! Staviskys!” A new word had entered the French lexicon of popular slang.”
Are you ready to enjoy some wonderful (rare) sketch illustrations and start your criminological journey to try and solve this ‘cold-case’ murder of 1934? This reconstruction is the work of writer, M. M. Albéric Cahuet (1877-1942) & artist, André Galland (1886-1965) to which full credit and admiration is duly given.
Overview by Albéric Cahuet–
On February 21st 1934, the mutilated body of Mr. Albert Prince, A Judge of the Paris Court of Appeal was found on the railway line near Dijon. From June 1925 until October 1931, Mr. Prince was at the head of the financial section of the Public Prosecutor’ s Office and therefore he might have been able to throw considerable light on certain aspects of The Stravinsky Affair. For that reason it was at once assumed that he had been murdered in order that his lips might be sealed. The first results of the post-mortem showed there were no knife or bullet wounds on the body. Later, Dr. Khun, having examined the body and made various tests, affirmed that he had found in the tissue traces of a toxic substance of a narcotic nature. The police were baffled and as this is written, the mystery remains unsolved. The following points may be made in connection with this very plausible reconstruction. In January a stranger presented himself at the house in which Mr. Prince’s mother lives in Dijon, asking after Madame’s health and was told the name of her doctor – Dr. Ehringer. Evidently, it is argued a careless note was made, for in telegraphing to his wife on arrival at Dijon, Mr. Prince, presumably given the name by the stranger, who is thought to have met him there, wired it as ‘Hallinger’. On February 20th some person unknown rang up Mr. Prince in Paris and told him that his aged mother was to be operated on in Dijon that evening and begged him to come at once. Thereupon the Judge, never doubting the authenticity of the message, caught the 12.32pm train from Paris. He reached Dijon at 4.44.pm and six minutes later sent the telegram to his wife saying that his mother was going on as well as could be expected and that he was starting for the nursing home. His movements between the time he left the Hôtel Morot, Dijon and the time his dead body was found on the line at Combe-Aux-Fées are unknown. The argument advanced is that he was lured nominally to “La Providence” but actually to Combe-Aux-Fées to meet his death – death which must seem to have been caused by a train; even, it may have been due to suicide. But the knife found by the body was blood-stained but the body had no mark of a knife wound. The conclusion is that the knife was left as a symbol – a sign of revenge and a threat to the living who might be called to given evidence in the Stravinsky Affair. A motor-car with dimmed headlights was seen standing near the railway close to the spot where the body was found, at the presumed time of death. Mr. Prince’s mother was never a patient at “La Providence.” Here is the reconstruction by artist André Galland.
On February 20th, 1934, Albert Prince left Paris for Dijon, summoned to his mother’s bedside by an authoritative telephone call. At the Gare De Lyon, Monsieur Prince caught the 12.32 pm train for Dijon. Was he being shadowed? An important witness has stated that he was. During the journey from Paris to Dijon, Mr. Prince it may be assumed dealt with notes and documents carried in his portfolio – possibly, indeed with material concerning ‘The Stavisky Affair’. Was he spied upon in the train?
The train reached Dijon at 4.44pm and Mr. Prince got out. Everything suggests that he was stopped at this moment by a stranger who introduced himself as a messenger from the doctor named as attending Mr. Prince’s mother. (Possible the owner of the authoritative voice that send the judge on his death-journey)
At the station post-office, Mr. Prince sent a telegram to his wife, saying that his mother was reported as being as well as possible after her operation and that he was going to the nursing home. The name of his mother’s doctor was incorrectly spelt, Hallinger instead of Ehringer.
Leaving the station. Mr. Prince walked to the Hôtel Morot close by. Apparently the mysterious messenger who had met him on his arrival, took good care not to be seen with him in the telegraph office or at the hotel thus guarding against future identification.At the Hôtel Morot, Mr. Prince booked a room and filled in the particulars required by the registrar, desposited his suitcase (but not his portfolio which was found by his body, minus certain papers,) and went out. It was evident that he was in a hurry.Here theory begins: Mr. Prince allowed himself to be driven into the country in the belief that he was going to “La Providence” to which he had been told his mother had been removed. Its wall is on the left.
But the car passed “La Providence” (possibly with Mr. Prince stunned or drugged) and continued up the Chèvre-Morte Road, and, by way of the Route Nationale and under the little railway bridge to the Combe-Aux-Feés. At the Combe-Aux-Feés, Mr. Prince’s death was assured and the body was borne up a short incline leading to the little wall beside the railways line.On the right is a hut in which the body could have been hidden in an emergency.
The wall having been crossed with ease, the murderers, seeking to place the body on the line, slid and dragged their burden by way of a patch of small loose pebbles. Ten minutes latter a goods train passed crushing and breaking the body which had a broken cord around one of the ankles.
One reconstruction of the last stage of Mr. Prince’s death-journey: The judge was driven to and past “La Providence” – the car then traversing the Chèvre-Morte Road,and turning righr into the Route Nationale to reach the Combe-Aux-Feés
A second reconstruction of the last stage of the death-journey: The car went past Talent following the Troyes Road until it reached a lonely spot sat which Mr. Prince (drugged or already dead) could be secreted until he could be borne to Combe-Aux-Feés by night.
A dog on a neighbouring farmstead was heard howling about the time of the death – reacting traditionally to the passing-by of a dead body (note from me: this may be a translation quirk or there’s some kind of folk-lore insertion purported here by Albéric Cahuet– surely he means the dog was merely alerted by strangers passing!)
X – point where body found: (1) Paris-Dijon railway line (2) Combe-Aux-Feés quarry in which a car would be moved about or left without being seen from the road (3) The shortest incline leading to the railway line (4) The Fountaine-Aux-Feés (5) Inaccessible road down the valley (6) Cultivated ground near Talant (7) The Rover Ouche.
Well- there you have the story as presented to the readers of the London Illustrated News week-ending March 17th 1934 – a really intriguing piece of history enacted eight-four years ago. Interesting that traces of a toxic substance of a narcotic nature were found by one doctor and immediately that line of inquiry was shut down and the doctor taken off the register. This is all gold-dust to conspiracy theorists – but probably, in this case, genuinely so. What do you think?
The Sunday Times (London, England), Sunday, April 01, 1934; pg. 13; Issue 5790.
 Poster Campaign against Police. The Sunday Times (London, England), Sunday, April 01, 1934; pg. 13; Issue 5790.