The Omar Raddad case revived by science

Accused of killing Ghislaine Marchal on June 24, 1991, the gardener of the rich widow of an industrialist from Mougins, in the Var region, was sentenced to 18 years in prison. DNA samples belonging to four men, but not Omar Raddad, have just been found on the seals.

Everyone remembers these words written in blood by an old woman: “Omar killed me”. France was fascinated by this extraordinary judicial case. It broke out on June 24, 1991 when the rich widow, Ghislaine Marchal, 65 years old, was found in her cellar, bathed in her blood. She had been killed with a knife. But before dying, she had time to point out her murderer with her own blood.
At the end of a too fast investigation of gendarmerie, the culprit is quickly designated. It would be the gardener of the rich lady because his name is Omar Raddad.
This young father of Moroccan origin often asked his boss for advances on his salary. Because he has a nasty flaw: he plays horse racing. Three days after the facts, Omar Raddad is presented to the investigating judge, Jean-Paul Renard. Omar was “charged” as it was then called, with voluntary manslaughter and imprisoned. An investigation carried out smoothly.
Too well, no doubt. Because, from the bottom of his cell, Omar screams his innocence. But he has against him these terrible accusations of the victim. But also that of graphologists who affirm that the inscriptions are well of the hand of the victim. Move along, there’s nothing to see!

18 years of imprisonment !

In January 1994, the trial opened before the Alpes-Maritimes Assize Court. Despite the quality of his lawyers, Georges Girard, Gérard Baudoux and Jacques Vergès, Omar Raddad was sentenced to 18 years in prison. A year later, the Court of Cassation rejected the appeal filed by his lawyers. The case was over.
However, public opinion was not convinced of the guilt of the Moroccan gardener. Too easy. The press seized on the case and published several counter-investigations that cast doubt.
It is difficult to understand why this woman, who is fond of crossword puzzles, made such a gross spelling mistake. It is difficult to understand why the police did not investigate further, why they did not develop the photos that were in the drawers.
The gardener’s timetable does not fit the facts. In short, the whole story seems to be constructed from bits and pieces.

Chirac’s pardon

In May 1996, the King of Morocco was also moved by this rather rapid conviction of one of his subjects. He asked for clemency for Omar Raddad in exchange for a gesture in favor of a Frenchman held in the jails of the Cherifian regime. Jacques Chirac, then President of the Republic, granted a partial pardon to Raddad. The sentence was reduced by 4 years and 8 months.
Given his impeccable behavior in prison, Omar Raddad was released on September 4, 1998.
Faced with the determination of Omar Raddad’s lawyers, the Review Commission ordered new investigations in February 2002. But the Court of Revision refused, in November, a second trial.

Traces of DNA

The case would have been bogged down for good if it hadn’t been for the obstinacy of the gardener’s new lawyer, Me Noaschovitch, who demanded a genetic profile based on the DNA traces found mixed with Ghislaine Marchal’s blood.
As early as 1994 it was known that there were traces of male DNA on the seals. However, the court considered that these traces “were not of such a nature as to raise doubts about the guilt of the accused”.
It is on the basis of a new law that the lawyer Sylvie Noaschovitch requested and obtained in 2014 new expert opinions on the seals, including two doors and a chevron. Thus, we have just learned that these traces belong to four men and that they do not match the DNA of Omar Raddad. Obviously, this is not enough to completely exonerate the gardener. But it would still be interesting to know who they belong to. They will be compared with the national DNA database (FNAEG).
But assuming that no name can ever be put on the face of these DNA traces, a serious doubt comes to scientifically revive the case. A doubt that should benefit Omar Radda.

Marcel GAY