US law enforcement uses INTERPOL global database to catch and convict California multiple rapist

16 December 2011

LYON, France ‒ The conviction in the US of an Afghan national wanted internationally for a series of rapes after a DNA match made by INTERPOL led to the suspect’s arrest in Austria in 2010 has been hailed by INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble as an example of what can be achieved through international police cooperation.

Ali Achekzai, aged 33, who fled to Austria from the US after he was accused of rape in 2004, was convicted Thursday in a court in Santa Ana, California, of sexually assaulting two women and attempting to sexually assault a third. He was extradited to the US from Austria in 2010 after detectives from the Tustin Police Department in California, working with the Orange County Crime Lab, sent a DNA profile linked to the US attacks to INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon in December 2009.

INTERPOL’s global DNA database matched the profile with another one submitted by Austria as part of an investigation into a rape in Salzburg in April 2009. Immediately after confirming the hit, INTERPOL’s DNA unit alerted authorities in the US and Austria which then exchanged further investigative information, including fingerprints and photographs which confirmed the man’s identity as Achekzai, who was at that time living under an assumed name in Salzburg.

“This case highlights the importance for law enforcement of consulting global databases when in possession of unknown DNA specimens taken from serious crime scenes. An international rapist has been brought to justice and local crimes have been solved through international law enforcement tools and collaboration,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

“Ali Achekzai’s identity, arrest and conviction were secured because investigators in California sent the suspect’s DNA profile to INTERPOL, because Austria shared information on its own crime case, and because of the coordination between INTERPOL’s National Central Bureaus in Vienna, Washington and its DNA unit in Lyon.

“If they had not done so, it is very likely this convicted and brutal serial rapist would still be at large.

“INTERPOL’s global DNA database played a crucial role in Achekzai’s arrest. This conviction shows the added value INTERPOL can bring to investigations worldwide by making connections between what appear to be unrelated cases,” concluded Mr Noble.

INTERPOL’s DNA database – the only global database of its kind – was created in 2003 and currently contains approximately 115,000 profiles submitted by 59 member countries resulting in 351 international matches flagged to the affected countries.

All DNA profiles submitted to INTERPOL are anonymous, with member countries retaining ownership of the profile data and controlling its inclusion, access and destruction in accordance with their national laws. Delegates at INTERPOL's 2009 General Assembly in Singapore endorsed a resolution for the expansion and increased use of INTERPOL’s DNA and fingerprint databases by frontline officers in its member countries to help solve crimes and identify fugitives through data comparison.