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crime Mass DNA testing to start in rape case

This is only the second time that mass DNA screening has been carried out in Switzerland

(Keystone)

Law enforcement authorities in Lucerne are to start the mass DNA screening of 372 young men in the next two weeks, in the hope of solving a rape case in which the victim was left partially paralysed.

This is only the second mass DNA screening ever to take place in Switzerland.

Three months ago, a 26-year-old woman was pulled off her bicycle at night on a causeway in Emmen, a town in the canton of Lucerne. She was taken into a nearby forest and raped. Her arms and legs are now paralysed following the fall from her bike, the canton Lucerne public prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Friday.external link The perpetrator is still at large.

Investigators were able to interview the woman in October and have now obtained a description of the perpetrator: he is said to be 19-25 years old, with dark, curly hair and a smoker. According to the statement, the woman could not give any further details.

Lucerne police have managed to obtain DNA from the victim’s clothes. “We have got DNA, but no match,” said Simon Kopp, a public prosecutor’s office spokesman.

Mouth swabs, alibi checks

Detectives have now pulled together a list of 372 men who either match the victim’s description, or are linked to the crime scene by their residence or route to work. The detectives used photos from official documents, as well as from social media. Police house calls were not made, Kopp said. Some men made the list because they had a criminal record.

The 372 men will receive a letter from the public prosecutor’s office in the next few weeks. They will then have 15 days to come for a mouth swab, Kopp explained further. Alibis will also be checked.

The men in question are allowed to refuse to give their DNA. A court would then have to rule on this.

Mass DNA screenings are a rarity in Switzerland. The last and only such testing took place in 2011 after the murder of a psychoanalyst in Zurich’s exclusive Seefeld area. Three-hundred men were called in to give DNA samples, but the perpetrator was never found.

The canton Lucerne public prosecutor’s office was not allowed to order the mass testing on its own; it had to go to what is known as the Compulsory Measures Court for approval.

Christian Renggli from Lucerne cantonal court said that the DNA swabs would only be used in connection with this case and would be destroyed if the person could be ruled out. This is set down in law, he said.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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