Friday, 8 August 2008

Australia: Faulty DNA Evidence Casts Doubts on 7000 Cases

From The Press Association

Australian police have admited DNA evidence has cast doubt on 7,000 criminal cases in Australia.

Victoria state police deputy commissioner Simon Overland said all 7,000 cases involving DNA evidence brought before courts in Victoria were being reviewed to ensure there had been no other instances of possible cross contamination.

The mistake was discovered after a man was wrongly charged with double murder after crime scene clothes became contaminated with his DNA sample in a laboratory.

Russell John Gesah was accused of strangling a woman and her young daughter 24 years ago by police who hailed a breakthrough in technology that linked the 43-year-old man to semen stained clothing found at the murder scene.

But they withdrew the charges on Wednesday after discovering the clothing had been accidentally exposed to Gesah's DNA in the laboratory.

Gesah was incriminated because the clothing was examined in the same part of the laboratory on the same day in 1999 as clothing from an unrelated crime, Victoria state police deputy commissioner Simon Overland said.

"Victoria police deeply regret the failure of the process which resulted in this development," he said.

"This was a result of human error, and that's why we have (control) systems in place."

Some of the cases under review resulted in lengthy prison sentences.

Police have apologised to Gesah and to the murder victims' family who had welcomed the charges.

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