INTERPOL DNA match leads to Austrian arrest of man suspected of rapes across US and Europe

29 janvier 2010

LYON, France – A DNA match made by INTERPOL has led to the arrest of an Afghan national in Austria suspected of a series of rapes in the US and in Europe.

In December 2009, US authorities sent a DNA profile linked to a number of violent sex attacks in California between 2002 and 2004 to INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France. INTERPOL’s global DNA database matched the profile with another 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 both countries which then exchanged further investigative information, including fingerprints and photographs in order to confirm the man’s identity.

The 32-year-old Afghan man, identified by US authorities as Ali Achekzai, and who is believed to have visited a number of countries using an alias, was arrested in Salzburg on Tuesday and is now awaiting extradition to the US.

“There is no way that this arrest could have been made without INTERPOL’s global DNA database,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble. “This is a perfect example of the added value INTERPOL can bring to any investigation anywhere in the world, making connections between what appear to be unrelated cases.

“If the investigators in California had not sent the DNA profile from what was considered a ‘cold case’ to INTERPOL, and if Austria had not shared the information, it is 100 per cent certain that this man, who clearly poses a serious danger to women, would still be at large,” said the INTERPOL chief.

“Austria has been a strong supporter of INTERPOL’s DNA database since its launch. A crucial element in this case was the co-ordination between the National Central Bureaus in Vienna, Washington and the DNA unit in Lyon.

“I would particularly like to praise the actions of the Orange County Sheriff’s office and Detective Ryan Coe of the Tustin Police Department. His foresight in sharing the DNA profile from these brutal attacks with the international police community was definitely a key factor in this arrest.

“In 2006 Congressman Dana Rohrabacher organized a meeting between INTERPOL and law enforcement officials from southern California so that they could learn how working with INTERPOL could both keep Californians safe and help solve serious crimes. I am convinced that the co-operation begun that day formed the basis for our joint success. For this I am grateful to Congressman Rohrabacher," added Mr Noble.

INTERPOL is now contacting all 188 member countries in order to determine which countries may have been visited by the 32-year-old and if he is wanted in connection with any other crimes around the world.

INTERPOL’s DNA database – the only global database of its kind – was created in 2003 and currently contains approximately 95,000 profiles submitted by 55 member countries resulting in 250 potential international matches.

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 member countries to help solve crimes and identify fugitives through data comparison.