Mass DNA tests in French school girl rape case

Monday, April 14, 2014

Under French law, there is no obligation for males to give DNA samples, yet if they refuse 'they can become potential suspects'

Under French law, there is no obligation for males to give DNA samples, yet if they refuse 'they can become potential suspects'

PARIS - Mass DNA tests on Monday are being conducted on more than 500 male students to determine the rapist of a 16-year-old schoolgirl in La Rochelle in Western France.

The DNA tests are being conducted on 500 male students in a French private Catholic school in the western French city of La Rochelle where a female student was raped last September in a school toilet. She could not identify her rapist because of the darkness as the light from the automatic time switch went off.

Prosecutors said they decided to go ahead with the mass DNA tests after several months of investigation proved "fruitless."

The tests starting Monday and ending Wednesday, will see the results out in a month, and target 475 high school students out of 1200, 31 teachers and 21 others males who were present at the school on September 30 -- the day of the attack.

Some pupils expressed their discontent to the local media saying "It’s disturbing to have to do the test, It’s bizarre," and others fear discovering the identity of the attacker, should he be a close friend. 

The tests are said to cost around €5,000 ($6,940) and saliva swabs will be taken and matched with DNA found on the girl's clothes. Tests conducted on her family and close friends tested negative, said La Rochelle Prosecutor Isabelle Pagenelle.

Under French law, there is no obligation for those males to give samples, yet if any of them refuses "they can become potential suspects who may be detained," said Pagenelle. 

She also explained that both parental and individual authorization was necessary for minors undertaking the test and all samples unrelated to the rape will be destroyed.

The French League of Human Rights criticized the procedure describing it as " disproportionate, threatening and traumatic."

"The police have probably other ways to identify who committed this heinous crime", the president of the French League of Human Rights, Pierre Tartakowsky, told local media.

The tests, the first conducted in a French school, has been conducted in at least three separate cases before in France.

In France, this practice is considered as a last resort, when prosecutors are blocked by an unresolved case or are in doubt on the offender's identity.

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