This is the first step towards a possible review of the trial. Twenty-seven years after Omar Raddad’s conviction for the murder of a wealthy widow, Ghislaine Marchal, the courts decided on Thursday (December 16th) to reopen the case, a judicial source said.
The investigative committee of the Court of Revision and Reconsideration ordered additional information before ruling on the admissibility of the request filed by Omar Raddad. This decision constitutes a first step before a possible referral to the Court, which will have the last word on the organization of a new trial, an extremely rare event in France.
“This decision is a step towards revision”Omar Raddad’s lawyer Sylvie Noachovitch told reporters. “The battle is not over”, she added. For Omar Raddad, “It’s a real hope”, she said, more than thirty years after the murder.
“Evidence questioning his guilt”
Designated by the inscription “Omar killed me”, traced with the blood of the victim at the scene of the crime, the former gardener had suffered a first rejection of a request for review in 2002. His new request, in one of the most enigmatic and controversial criminal cases in France, is based on advances in DNA science and on a law passed in June 2014 which relaxes the criteria for obtaining a review of a trial . Those are “Evidence calling into question the guilt of Omar Raddad”, assured Me Noachovich before the decision was rendered.
She presented the findings to justice – unveiled by The world – an expert in genetics who analyzed a discovery of 2015: samples taken from seals had revealed traces of DNA “Exploitable” in the lettering, which turned out to be different from the genetic profile of the ex-gardener.
In total, four DNA prints corresponding to four men, two of which were perfectly exploitable and two others partially, had been found on two doors and a chevron at the scene of the crime. It was on these two doors that the inscriptions “Omar killed me”, emblematic of this affair, and “Omar took me”, with the blood of the victim were made.
35 traces of unknown male DNA
Ghislaine Marchal, rich widow of an automotive supplier, was 65 when she was found bathed in her blood, in the cellar of her property in Mougins (Alpes-Maritimes), on June 24, 1991.
In notes from 2019 and 2020, the expert in genetics had noted the presence of 35 traces of an unknown male DNA in the inscription “Omar me t” and concluded in the sense of the hypothesis of a deposit of these fingerprints at the time of the facts and not of a « pollution » later, especially by investigators. The investigative committee of the Court of Revision and Reconsideration requested additional investigations on this point.
The defense of the former gardener considers plausible the fact that these genetic traces were deposited by the author of the inscription. It would therefore not have been written by Mr.me Marchal dying but by a man, potentially the murderer, seeking to designate a scapegoat.
“New judicial component”
A first request for review, filed by the previous defender of Omar Raddad, Mr.e Jacques Vergès, was already based on genetic expertise which had brought to light a male DNA “In very low proportion” different from that of the gardener. But the Court of Review and Reconsideration had rejected the request for a new trial, considering that it was “Impossible to determine when, before, concomitant or after the murder, these traces were left”.
Sentenced in 1994 to eighteen years imprisonment, without the possibility of appealing at the time, Omar Raddad had benefited from a partial pardon from President Jacques Chirac, then from parole in 1998. This pardon does not constitute cancellation of condemnation and does not make him innocent.
In a statement, the family of Ghislaine Marchal says « [prendre] act “ of the decision ordering additional investigations. The victim’s family “Hopes that these investigations will make it possible to put a definitive end to a case painfully experienced by her” and “Hopes that this new judicial component will take place in a peaceful media climate”, according to the press release.