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Gunpowder, DNA analysis link 25,000 suspects to murders

FILE PHOTO: CID Boss Grace Akullo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Ballistic and forensic analyses aided the arrest of 25,074 suspects linked to heinous crimes over the last two years. This is according to data compiled by the police Directorates of Criminal Investigations, health services and forensic.

The data shows that 12,811 suspects were examined and linked to murders, sexual offences and robberies last year alone. Police zeroed on the suspects after examining gunpowder and blood samples found on their clothes and bodies.

The tests, according to police were carried in both government and private health facilities coordinated by AIGP Moses Byaruhanga who superintends the health services directorate.

Some of the cases that were prosecuted by use of gunpowder, fingerprints and DNA analysis include the infamous Ntungamo murders where six people were murdered and an assortment of items were robbed. In her report, CID Boss Grace Akullo indicates that the same guns recovered from Ntungamo had been used in robbery and murder cases in Old Kampala and Buloba.

A police forensic expert who preferred anonymity said when someone fires a bullet, gunpowder splashes on their clothes. In addition, their fingerprints remain on the gun while in some cases the victim’s DNA in blood or sweat entangles with the culprit’s.

“When someone touches another person’s body after killing him or in the process of terminating his life, the DNA mixes. When we examine the victim’s blood samples or even clothes, we find extra DNA. We zero out that extra DNA and we search for the suspect,” a forensic officer said.

Meanwhile, ballistic analysis helped police investigators to arrest suspects in the robbery and murder of Raphael Walugembe, a case that was recorded at Masanafu during the same year. The gun cartridges recovered from the murder scenes were later connected to a case of aggravated robbery in Kajjansi where one Sanyu Nalukwago was robbed of 18 million shillings.

“The two rifles recovered from Masanafu under Old Kampala were linked to Katwe CRB 935/2019 aggravated robbery to the prejudice of Osuma Kaya, a Turkish National, Katwe CRB 916/2019, murder of Nalwadda Harriet and Nakabubi Maureen and aggravated robbery of unspecified amount of money,” the forensic report reads.

The forensic and health services directorates examined 71,862 victims of crime in 2019 while 53,973 victims were examined in 2018. 8,685 postmortem examinations were conducted in 2019 while a relatively higher number was examined in 2018. 97,471 fingerprint examinations were conducted.

But Akullo says there are still delays of at least six days in tangible forensic examinations while latent print examination takes over two months.

“This is due to the manual processes and the limited trained and gazetted human resource. This situation is being addressed with the implementation of the Automated Biometric Identification System,” Akullo indicates in the report.

The Criminal Investigations Directorate registered 4,718 cases of murder last year which was a 4.9 percent increase compared to 4,497 cases in 2018. Akullo states that the motives behind the killings were land wrangles, people taking the law into their hands, family misunderstandings, crimes of passion and business rivalry.

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