Judges in France order mysterious murder to reopen

PARIS – Omar Raddad , the Moroccan gardener convicted in the grisly murder of a man in French society three decades ago, succeeded Thurs...


PARIS – Omar Raddad, the Moroccan gardener convicted in the grisly murder of a man in French society three decades ago, succeeded Thursday in his attempt to have the case re-examined, reopening a new chapter in one of the most murder mysteries sustainable products from France.

The judges of France’s highest court of appeal decided to reopen the case after Mr Raddad’s lawyers presented new DNA evidence which they said exonerated him from the 1991 murder of his employer, Ghislaine Marchal, in his villa on the Côte d’Azur in the south of France – a murder made famous by a grammatical error.

The court has ordered an investigation into a scan of the new DNA evidence, according to the court’s three-page ruling. It is the first step in what Mr Raddad’s supporters hope will be a rehearing of his first trial, 27 years after his conviction.

It is extremely rare for this French court to reopen a case, even though the legal reforms of 2014 made it easier for lawyers to plead for a new hearing. In 2002, the court rejected a previous request for a review of Mr. Raddad’s case, which was then based on new testimony and also on previous DNA evidence.

“Reopening a case closed in 2002 is something incredible and unexpected,” said Sylvie Noachovitch, Mr. Raddad’s lawyer, in an interview after the judgment. “For Omar Raddad, it’s a great joy.

The victim’s family opposed the reopening of the case and believes that Mr. Raddad is guilty. In a statement, the family said they hoped the new investigation would put “a definitive end to an affair they have been through painfully.”

In a brief telephone interview, Sabine du Granrut, who is the victim’s niece and also a lawyer, cautioned against overestimating the importance of the court’s decision, saying asking for more information was far from overdue. ‘agree to hear the trial again.

“For the moment, it is half opening a small door”, declared Ms. du Granrut.

Mr. Raddad, 59, has always claimed his innocence in a crime that has long destabilized France, affecting many cracks in the country, including class, religion and race.

In 1994, Mr. Raddad was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the murder of Ms. Marchal, whose body was discovered in the basement of her villa, with the only door locked from the outside but also barricaded from there. inside. Inside the locked room, a message was scrawled on a door, written in the victim’s blood and apparently by the victim herself in her dying moments: “Omar killed me,” or “Omar killed me. “

But the post contained a grammatical error – it should have been “killed me” – which raised questions, not only about this specific crime, but also about class and language in France. Could a woman of her social status make such a banal mistake, in a country where mastery of the language has long been the guarantee of a good education?

Her family and prosecutors said she had made similar mistakes before. According to them, Ms Marchal, whose body was discovered with multiple bruises and cuts, found the strength to denounce her own killer in the last minutes of her life by writing this message and a second – “Omar has t” – which remained incomplete.

Lawyers and supporters of Mr Raddad have long argued that he was set up. The real murderer, they say, used the victim’s blood to write the messages to avoid detection by shifting attention to the gardener.

Mr. Raddad’s DNA and fingerprints were never found at the crime scene.

Instead, in 2015, the traces of four unknown men were located at the scene thanks to advances in DNA technology. An expert for Mr Raddad subsequently identified the presence of 35 traces of DNA from an unknown man which were mixed with the incomplete second message written in the victim’s blood.

For Mr. Raddad’s supporters, the DNA traces were left by the real killer, who had trapped Mr. Raddad. But Ms du Granrut, the victim’s niece, argued that the evidence was treated less carefully three decades ago and that the DNA traces were contamination from an independent source.

The two sides also clashed over a possible mobile.

Prosecutors said Mr Raddad, who they said had a gambling problem, killed his employer in a fit of rage after she refused to give him an advance on his salary. His supporters say he got along well with Ms. Marchal and had no reason to kill her.

After Mr Raddad’s conviction in 1994, his lawyer said his client was wrongly convicted simply because he was an Arab. Famous intellectuals rally to his cause, led by Jean-Marie Rouart, novelist and long-time member of the French Academy.

“Injustice is happening all over the world,” Mr. Rouart said in an interview after the judgment. “But it’s particularly sad when it happens in France which, thanks to Montesquieu, is considered the land of justice. I now hope that justice will be served. ”

Mr. Raddad’s case has become a symbol of miscarriage of justice in the popular imagination.

Mr. Raddad was released after a few years in prison thanks to the personal intervention of King Hassan II of Morocco, where the case had received intense attention. Then French President Jacques Chirac granted Mr Raddad a partial pardon in 1996, but the gardener was never cleared of the murder.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Judges in France order mysterious murder to reopen
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