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Czech police to use plant, animal DNA in fighting crime

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Prague, July 14 (CTK) – Experts from the Czech Institute of Criminalistics are testing a new method of revealing crime that is based on “non-human genetics” or plant and animal DNA, within a five-year project launched at the beginning of this year, daily Pravo writes on Thursday.

This new method is able to precisely identify even microscopic traces of particular plants and animals on the scene of crime.

It can help the police to prove animal smugglers, poachers and drug producers guilty. However, it might be used during the investigation into violent crimes, too, for instance, in collecting evidence from a suspect’s clothes, Pravo says.

The Institute wants the animal and plant genetic methods to be gradually introduced in practice, at the latest after the research is completed.

The Prague-based institute has started cooperating with foreign forensic laboratories within the project. Czech experts are now to apply their research in Czech conditions, Hana Sulakova, expert from the Institute of Criminalistics, told Pravo.

At present, it is possible to identify an animal during a crime investigation only if a sufficiently large sample is available along with expensive and not always reliable sera. Moreover, experts cannot recognise immunologically related species, Pravo writes.

The new method enables the individual identification of a particular animal or a plant, Sulakova said.

However, it is a long-term process as the institute needs a sufficiently large database of DNA samples for each species.

Former police investigator Josef Doucha is convinced that the method can help the police. “It might be taken as a piece of evidence of a criminal offence, for instance, in the case of animal maltreatment,” Doucha told Pravo.

The Czech Environmental Inspection, in particular the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) section dealing with the regulation of trading in protected species, has also welcomed the method. Its experts have consulted the Institute of Criminalistics on the research, Pravo writes.

The inspection has recommended that the institute focus on the species identification in traditional Chinese medicine and kinship tests of birds of prey, Pavla Rihova, from the CITES section, told Pravo.

“Animal forensic genetics is a very progressive field, the research is really immensely needed and it continues in big strides forward, since many workplaces pay attention to it, Rihova said.

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