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DNA evidence destroyed at forensic laboratory

© Belga
© Belga

Different views about the impact of the arson on terror cases The arson that took place during the night of August 20 at the Belgian National Institute of Forensics and Criminology (INCC), located in Neder-Over-Heembeek, will have no impact on the terror cases currently processed by the federal prosecutor, said the spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office on Thursday (22 September).

However, International New York Times writes (23 September) that prosecutors and lawyers fear that all of the cases in which DNA evidence has been used may encounter difficulties during trials.

According to the newspaper, the bulk of the DNA evidence had already been analyzed and digitized and stored on a computer service not on the site.  But it is not clear if the courts will accept digitized evidence alone if the physical evidence has been destroyed.

The spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office admitted that “If evidence has been completely destroyed, then that can be troublesome for all of our cases that are concerned. If they´re only in part destroyed, then we’ll have to redo the analysis.”

The destroyed DNA evidence relates among others to suspects who were involved in the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, including the person who was charged in the attack on the Jewish museum and “the man in the hat” at the Brussels airport.

Several unknown persons forced their way through their vehicle into the courtyard of the institute on the night of August 29 and were able to reach the wing housing six of the ten laboratories of the institute. Witnesses say they that they heard explosions.

Five people were arrested but were later released without charge. The hypothesis of a terrorist act has not been confirmed. The ongoing investigation is considering different tracks.

But according to the newspaper, “officials and experts noted that the line between Belgium’s criminal and terrorist networks is increasingly blurred.”

The forensics institute was not guarded by police or security staff. During the night of the attack, the only security at the site consisted of a fence and video cameras.

The Brussels Times (Source: Belga)