L’investigation begins to deliver its first information. On Friday February 11, a source familiar with the matter said that the only possible explanation as to the origin of the explosion, on December 30, of the vehicle of the pilot Philippe Boutron on the Dakar 2022, is the installation of a ” improvised explosive device”. This same source indicated that the National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office (Pnat) went to Saudi Arabia, where the competition took place, at the end of January-beginning of February. But he did not go there alone.
He was accompanied by investigators from the General Directorate of Homeland Security (DGSI) and technicians from the technical and scientific police, who were able to take samples from the vehicle and reach this conclusion. On December 30, the explosion that hit the car in Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia, seriously injured the driver, Frenchman Philippe Boutron. Five other people were also on board.
Paris has never ruled out the criminal trail
The Saudi authorities spoke of an “accident”. But Paris stressed from the start that “the hypothesis of a criminal act” was not ruled out. On January 4, the Pnat announced that it had opened a preliminary investigation into “attempted assassinations in connection with a terrorist enterprise”. Philippe Boutron was driving at the time of the explosion, near the hotel where the occupants of the vehicle had just spent the night. The crew headed for the stadium where the checks were held on the cars to take part in the rally-raid, which started two days later.
Repatriated after being operated on in Saudi Arabia. He was treated at the Percy military hospital in Clamart, near Paris, then placed in an artificial coma for a few days to relieve his pain. At the end of January, in an interview with France Bleu Orléans, he returned to the explosion: “There was a big shock. We didn’t expect it at all. The bomb was put under the floor (of his support vehicle, editor’s note) and I took the floor under my legs. He indicated that he could walk again.