Omar Raddad

Date of Crime:  June 23, 1991

Omar Raddad was convicted of the murder of Ghislaine Marchal. Marchal, 65, was a wealthy widow who lived alone in the affluent village of Mougins, near Cannes on the French Riviera. One morning when Marchal was relaxing by her pool, her neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Koster, called over the fence and invited her to lunch at 1 p.m. Marchal readily accepted. She later telephoned a friend at 11:48 a.m. At 1:30 p.m., when Marchal had not shown up at the Kosters for lunch, Mrs. Koster telephoned Marchal, but there was no answer.

The next morning Marchal was found stabbed to death in her basement. According to the medical examiner it had taken Marchal between 15 and 30 minutes to die from her wounds. It appeared that after being stabbed 18 times, Marchal had tried to prevent her assailant's return by barricading herself in the basement. An iron bar and a collapsible bed had been placed against the inside of the basement door. This door was the only means of entrance to or exit from the basement.

On the inside of the door was a message, “OMAR M'A TUER” (Omar killed me), written in Marchal's blood, presumably by Marchal herself. Due to this evidence, Marchal's gardener, Omar Raddad, was arrested and convicted of her murder.

However, there were problems with the evidence against Raddad: (1) If Marchal had written the message, she must have crawled from the basement door to the other side of the basement where her body was found. Even though her wounds would have been bleeding, there was no trace of blood on the floor between the two locations.

(2) Despite the evidence of a barricade, police had little trouble pushing open the basement door. All they could be certain of was that the iron bar and collapsible bed had fallen as they pushed their way in. They had no way of telling how the obstructions had been placed. The basement had been used to store junk. The bar and bed may have just fallen against the door when the assailant slammed it shut upon leaving.

(3) The message “OMAR M'A TUER” was ungrammatical and should have been written, “Omar m'a tué.” While the two sentences were pronounced the same, the message was the type of mistake a foreigner or a semi-literate person might make. Raddad was a Moroccan foreigner, but he could not have written the message as he was illiterate. Marchal was an educated woman, and it is doubtful that she would make such an error.

The evidence appeared as though Marchal's killer knew that Raddad worked for Marchal, and to throw suspicion away from himself, he framed Raddad. In both France and Morocco there was much public sentiment against Raddad's conviction in that he had been convicted on such inconclusive evidence. Raddad appealed his conviction to the French Supreme Court (Court de Cassation) but the state attorney ruled that Raddad's appeal was inadmissible in the absence of new evidence.

In 1998, during a state visit to Morocco, French President Jacques Chirac found himself under pressure from King Hassan who had taken a personal interest in Raddad's case. On Chirac's return to France he granted Raddad a presidential pardon and released him from prison after 7 years of confinement. However, unlike exoneration by the courts, the presidential pardon did not vacate Raddad's conviction. Raddad is still considered a murderer in the eyes of the law.  [8/09]


Reference:  Crime Magazine

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Cases in Other Countries, Same Name Crimes