Grave errors at the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) may have led to repeated miscarriages of justice, according to a report in daily De Telegraaf.
Documents seen by the paper appear to confirm that hundreds of errors were made in analyses of DNA samples found at crime scenes. In 1.3 percent of investigations errors were discovered, some of which were irreparable and led to a loss of essential data.
The errors include contamination of suspects' DNA with that of NFI employees, and sample mix-ups where DNA from one case ends up in another. The newspaper report says that the institute dismissed most errors as 'incidents', and that it sharpened its procedures in a far smaller number of other cases.
As a consequence of the faults, innocent people may have been convicted, and perpetrators may have walked free. MP Madeleine van Toorenburg of the governing Christian democrat party has asked the government to investigate the NFI lapses. "The growing importance of DNA matching in court cases should be questioned," Ms Van Toorenburg said. She also demanded that suspects and convicts should be informed if it turned out that the Forensic Institute had committed errors in their trials.
The NFI told De Telegraaf that its internal administrative systems are very detailed, that it is making every effort to trace deviations and that it is constantly improving its procedures.
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