Coroner's office orders inquest into 2019 killing of Montreal woman and her two sons

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MONTREAL — Quebec's chief coroner, Pascale Descary, has ordered a public inquest into the 2019 killing of a Montreal woman and her two young children.

The coroner's office said Wednesday the inquest will also probe the suicide of the woman's husband, who is believed to have killed his family before taking his own life.

Coroner Alain Manseau investigated the four deaths and his report was released Wednesday.But without giving details, Descary's office said new facts have recently come to light that require further investigation.

Manseau's report is critical of Quebec's prosecution service and a Quebec court judge, saying they could have done more to prevent the deaths of Dahia Khellaf and her sons, Adam, 4, and Aksil, 2.

Manseau concluded that they had been strangled to death and that Nabil Yssaad was likely the killer. The couple had separated at the time of the killing and Khellaf was in the process of divorcing her husband.

Yssaad died after he jumped from a sixth-floor window at a hospital south of Montreal a day before the bodies were discovered.

According to Manseau's report, police went to Khellaf's home after Yssaad's death to notify his family and to formally identify the body, but they received no answer when they knocked at the door. Police returned the next day, Dec. 11, 2019, and discovered the three bodies.

Five days before the killings, Quebec prosecutors dropped four charges against Yssaad — including assaulting and threatening Khellaf — after he agreed to sign a peace bond. The bond barred Yssaad from contacting Khellaf or being within 100 metres of her house.

But Manseau said the peace bond was "nothing more than a judicial placebo" without court-ordered treatment for Yssaad's mental health issues or an electronic tracking bracelet.

"The imposition of these conditions could have prevented the death of a mother and her two children, which occurred only a week after the conclusion of the criminal case," he wrote. Yssaad's copy of the peace bond was found at the scene of the crime.

Quebec's prosecution service said in a release Wednesday that use of a tracking bracelet for suspects in domestic violence cases was not an option at the time of the killings.

It described Manseau's report as being "based on factual and legal errors and on a misunderstanding of our guidelines, of the practices applicable to domestic violence, of the practice of criminal law and of the legal framework to which we are subject."

The coroner's office said the inquest could arrive at different conclusions than Manseau.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2022.

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press

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