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08 November 2013 - Media release

INTERPOL to expand DNA identification assistance to member countries

Cooperation with Netherlands Forensic Institute to enhance DNA matching capabilities

LYON, France – INTERPOL is to expand its ability to assist member countries to identify missing persons, victims of disasters and other complex identifications using DNA comparison.

INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble told the 7th INTERPOL International DNA User’s Conference for Investigative Officers, meeting at the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon this week (6 - 8 November), that the world police body is to work with the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) which has created the ‘Bonaparte’ software designed for quick and reliable human identification.

The ‘Bonaparte’ tool, developed with SMART Research which is affiliated to Radboud University Nijmegen, will enable INTERPOL and its member countries to conduct ‘kinship’ DNA searching procedures for the swift identification of family members.

Secretary General Noble pointed to the recent case where INTERPOL had issued a Yellow Notice, or missing persons alert at the request of Greek authorities to identify a young girl found in a Roma settlement, and also asked member countries to provide DNA profiles of individuals claiming to be Maria’s relatives.

“To compare those profiles we would have been required to ask member countries or entities like the NFI to do the comparisons because INTERPOL’s current DNA Gateway does not allow kinship comparisons,” said Mr Noble.

“By linking to the NFI and ‘Bonaparte’ this is about to change and all INTERPOL countries will benefit as a result. We will now be able to use our Gateway to identify missing persons based on DNA from biological relatives, which has proved essential in many cases at the national level,” added the INTERPOL Chief.

With 2013 marking the 15th anniversary for INTERPOL in the field of DNA, Secretary General Noble pointed to several of the successes already achieved via INTERPOL’s DNA database including in April this year the identification of a man suspected of involvement in a violent gang rape in Norway in 2008.

Following the man’s arrest for theft in Austria, a check against the INTERPOL DNA database revealed his connection to the Norway attack, and he was subsequently extradited and a second suspect also identified.

"The use of DNA to support the pursuit of justice continues to evolve. There are increased capabilities emerging in many INTERPOL member countries and an expansion into important areas such as missing persons and transnational crime," said Dr Simon Walsh of the Australian Federal Police and Chairman of the INTERPOL DNA Monitoring Expert Group.

The use of DNA in non-human cases was also highlighted, with an INTERPOL Investigative Support Team deployed in July to Sri Lanka where samples were taken from more than 350 elephant tusks seized from an illegal consignment. Through the use of DNA and isotope analysis, poaching hotspots could be located in Africa, which will help police better target criminal networks involved in wildlife crime.