ABU - ASALKAN BUKAN UMNO

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

’43-hour-old DNA samples not pretty’

Sulaiman Kamal | 7:56 PM | | | Best Blogger Tips

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The Australian forensic expert says the samples would have degraded.
KUALA LUMPUR: An Australian forensic expert, the third defence witness in the Anwar Ibrahim Sodomy II trial, drilled holes into the prosecution’s case today when he pointed out several weaknesses in the way the local authorities conducted themselves in gathering evidence in the sodomy case.
Dr David Lawrence Noel Wells, the head of forensic medicine at the Victoria Institute of Medicine, said it was more than likely that DNA samples – which were extracted from complainant Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan’s anus after 56 hours, and later kept in a drawer for 43 hours – would have degraded.
“Is sending a swab for testing 43 hours after the swab was taken acceptable?” asked Anwar’s lawyer Sankara Nair, to which Wells replied: “It certainly wouldn’t be pretty.”

“There would be large amounts of bacteria. A warm moist environment will damage the protein in the DNA. If you freeze these samples, then probably you are safe… at room temperature it would start to degrade,” the associate professor at Monash University told the High Court here.
Wells said the integrity of DNA specimen is “absolutely crucial”, adding that he would be horrified if his samples were tampered with.
He said contamination is real as there is always the risk of other DNA being present if one is not careful.
He also cautioned the use of DNA as evidence, warning of the uncontrollable elements (present), including environments, human error and even the “dark side” of a deliberate attempt to contaminate.
Asked if DNA can be extracted if kept in a rectum for 56 hours, Wells said: “If the specimen is more than 24 to 36 hours old before it is extracted, it would be difficult to get any results. I have never seen a case where DNA taken from the anus or rectum was more than 24 to 36 hours old (after the semen) was deposited (into the anus).
“If there is another lengthy period without air drying, I would be sceptical (if you can) get any meaningful results.”
Medical report deficient
Asked about how investigating officer Supt Judy Blacious Pereira kept the DNA samples in a metal cabinet instead of a freezer, Wells said: “Well, I am not a police officer but I suspect I would be
looking for a new job (if I were him).”
He also said that he has never come across a case where semen was being extracted from a victim’s body 56 hours after an alleged assault.
Wells also pointed out that there were several areas in the medical report prepared by Kuala Lumpur Hospital doctors Dr Mohd Razali Ibrahim, Dr Siew Sheue Feng and Dr Khairul Nizam Hassan which he termed “deficient”.
All three doctors had examined Saiful on June 28, 2008, when he first complained of the sodomy.
Wells, a specialist who has handled some 1,000 sexual cases and has frequently given evidence in Australian and UK courts for 25 to 26 years, said: “I was a little disappointed… I didn’t get a sense of confidence that the author or authors knew what they were exactly about.”
“The (medical) report is significantly deficient,” he said.
Wells said that he would not have chosen to have used ambiguous words to conclude that (there were) “no conclusive findings suggestive of penetration to the anus/rectum nor any significant defensive wounds on the body of the patient”.
“The report should have just read ‘no clinical findings’. The word ‘no conclusive’ leaves a doubt as to whether there was penetration,” he said.
He added that, aside from the conclusion, the rest of the results of the report clearly showed that there was no form of penetration.
Crucial gaps
Wells said that the report also contained comments that were not significant.
“It is ambiguous, not accurate. What comes to mind is perhaps clumsiness. Is it biased? Is it reflective of inexperience? I am not sure what to make of it. It is inaccurate… and could (potentially) be devastating,” he said.
Wells also pointed out contradictions between Saiful’s proforma report and the medical examination report – the former stated there was bleeding in the anus, whereas the latter showed otherwise.
He also said that the proforma form was not filled in properly. “It must be filled in to show the examination was done accordingly. I am puzzled by the crucial gaps,” he said.
Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Sankara said the testimony today proved that it was impossible that DNA samples taken from Anwar could be used against him.
“So case the closed lah, what else are we talking about?” added Anwar.
Yesterday, Anwar denied the charge of sodomy against him, saying that he never had any sexual relations with Saiful. Giving evidence from the dock, he called Saiful’s allegation a “blatant and vicious lie” and a “vile and despicable attempt at character assassination”.
On May 16, High Court judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah ordered Anwar to enter his defence after ruling that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the latter.
He ruled that Saiful was a “credible” and “truthful” witness whose testimony was corroborated by the evidence of expert witnesses, including doctors and chemists.
The trial resumes tomorrow. Another Australian DNA specialist Dr Brian Mc Donald is expected to
take the stand.


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