Friday, May 29, 2015

Seychelles Skull Case; DNA TESTS INCONCLUSIVE!

Forensics experts in Mauritius say essential parts for identification are missing.

Forensic tests on the skull found in Bel Ombre at the beginning of the month are said to be inconclusive. This is what official sources in Mauritius told this newspaper yesterday afternoon after they examined the skull. The DNA tests on the skull were supposed to take place yesterday but forensic experts in Mauritius claim that parts which are essential for the identification are missing. They have asked the Seychelles police to come back with the rest of the skull.

Where is the lower jaw?
Information received so far confirms that Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Reginald Elizabeth arrived in Mauritius in possession of the skull, the samples from the three families who have requested that their DNA samples be tested against it as well as bullet casings. The skull was taken to the laboratory on Monday. The bullet casings were also sent to the ballistics department on the same day. Results are still being awaited.

The police in Seychelles gave no indication of whether they had recovered the lower jaw – which is presumably what is missing - found by workers on a construction site in Bel Ombre before being re-interred. It now seems that the jaw will be vital in identifying the person the skull belonged to.

Sources tell this newspaper that the laboratory in Mauritius has been asked to determine conclusively the sex, the age and the race of the skull. It has also been tasked with determining whether it matches any of the DNA samples which have been provided. The Mauritian authorities have also been asked to determine whether the skull presents signs of injuries and it is yet to be determined if this can be done with an incomplete skull.

Bone of contention: The families who lost a loved one years ago, will be crushed by this development.
 The police confirmed on Saturday May 16 that they had recovered the skull after it had been re-interred by workers on a construction site. A few days later, the Commissioner of Police told TODAY that three bullet casings had been recovered on the site but this information was corrected by ACP Elizabeth last Friday during a press conference when he said that five bullet casings had actually been retrieved.

But no information relating to the lower jaw was given and it is not known whether it was recovered and, if so, whether it was sent to Mauritius along with the skull. As a result, forensic sources in Mauritius are saying that nothing more can be done as long as the missing parts are sent to the laboratory. This development will crush the three families that have come forward following the discovery of the skull in the hope that DNA testing could establish whether the skull belonged to one of their lost relatives. Samples have been taken from the relatives by the police for tests.

The discovery of the skull and the police’s subsequent handling of the case has also raised the question of whether all procedures have been followed in a case such as this one. In a Letter to the Editor this newspaper published earlier this week, a reader asked whether a court order for an enquiry had been issued by a judge for the purpose of taking the skull abroad for forensic examinations.

He further observed that a missing person file should have been opened and a court order sought by the police for the removal of the evidence from the country for forensic investigations. More importantly, he asked, “what independent measures have been put in place to protect the authenticity of the skull itself and to ensure that the families’ DNA are not tampered with on its way overseas?”

There has been no reaction from the authorities following the publication of those very valid points.