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Crime Chief decries lack of DNA testing capability at Forensic Lab

first_imgHead of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Wendell Blanhum has stated that the lack of DNA testing at the Forensic Laboratory located in Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, is a “sore problem” affecting the work of his department.“They lack the capability to do DNA testing, so this is a sore problem, it’s a sore issue and we still have to rely on (overseas partners). Of recent, we have been engaging the Brazilian authorities,” the Crime Chief said on Tuesday during the “Hot Seat” – a local radio programme.The Forensic LabAccording to Blanhum, only on Monday he contacted the Brazilian officials regarding the testing of samples from the decomposed remains, believed to be those of 39-year-old Lilwantie Balack, called “Darling”, that were found in the backyard of Lot 117 Mibicuri, Black Bush Polder home she shared with her 45-year-old husband, Sunildat Balack, called “Redman”.“I spoke with the liaison officer and we are making arrangements to have the samples sent to Brazil to analyse,” the Crime Chief noted. Nevertheless, Blanhum pointed out that as the Force was able to use the local Forensic Lab for drug analysis, he was confident that it would soon be able to do the same with DNA testing.“I think very shortly, we will have that capability. I spoke with the Director of the Forensic Lab and I basically expressed my concern to him and he has assured me that very soon, they will be going down that avenue to do DNA testing.“But it’s a very costly exercise and at the end of the day, I think it will do us great justice, particularly the relatives of those victims, so that they can have the results in a very timely manner,” the Crime Chief said.Over the years, the Guyana Police Force has had to resort to using overseas laboratories to conduct DNA testing for several high-profile cases, including the murders of Babita Sarjou; British teen Dominic Bernard; former Demerara Bank employee Sheema Mangar, and MFK Trading owner Mohamed F Khan.This is due to the fact that the Forensic Lab is yet to be outfitted with the necessary instruments to conduct basic DNA and gun residue testing which are internationally recognised.However, back in February, Government had approved some US$32,524 to honour outstanding payments to a Barbados security firm, IED, for the completion of works that will see the Laboratory equipped to provide these services.The firm was responsible for installing the security system at the Laboratory by way of a contract in 2012 and providing consultation oversight in 2013, during phase one of the project, but this never materialised because of the outstanding payments owed by Government.The firm will, therefore, be required to complete its work on the Laboratory, along with completing the training of persons who are going to operate the facility. The technical and electrical issues that were discovered a while back will also be rectified as soon as the contractors return to work.The Public Security Ministry last year commenced building the capacity of the Forensic Lab to prepare the facility for DNA and gun residue testing. Additionally, discussions were held for the procurement of rapid DNA and gun residue testing devices.Improving the Forensic Laboratory’s effectiveness towards preventing and conducting criminal investigations is the second component of the Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP). This component is being funded at a cost of US$5.5 million through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).last_img read more

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