Murder case triggers calls to boost DNA testing
18 January 2005 , HAMBURG - Leading German politicians are calling for more widespread DNA testing to be allowed after a spectacular murder case was speedily solved by police over the weekend. The state of Bavaria said it would be pressing again for DNA testing to become a standard police tool, saying the Rudolph Moshammer murder inquiry was the best proof of its effectiveness. The killer of the high-society Munich designer - throttled by telephone cable at his home Friday - was captured a day later thanks
18 January 2005
HAMBURG - Leading German politicians are calling for more widespread DNA testing to be allowed after a spectacular murder case was speedily solved by police over the weekend.
The state of Bavaria said it would be pressing again for DNA testing to become a standard police tool, saying the Rudolph Moshammer murder inquiry was the best proof of its effectiveness.
The killer of the high-society Munich designer - throttled by telephone cable at his home Friday - was captured a day later thanks to the so-called genetic fingerprinting.
Police are holding a 25-year-old Iraqi who has confessed to the killing after DNA evidence found at the scene of the crime matched a sample from the suspect on their database.
Police said that without the DNA match they would never have been able to solve the crime so quickly - and perhaps not at all.
Leading politicians from both Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD) and the opposition centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) as well as its Bavarian sister, the CSU, are calling for legal reins on DNA testing to be loosened.
But other SPD deputies as well as the Greens and liberal Free Democrat parties believe widespread DNA testing would be a massive infringement of civil liberties.
Present law allows DNA testing only for serious crimes and sexual offences.
German police say DNA analysis has now become one of the most effective ways of solving crime. It is now time for the legal basis to be created for it to become the norm, said Klaus Jansen, chairman of Germany's criminal police officers' federation.
He is backed by Bavaria's premier Edmund Stoiber who says DNA analysis should now become the key instrument for solving crime in the 21st century.
"DNA analysis means that people committing crimes will no longer be able to escape unpunished," he said.
Others, including the SPD's Dieter Wiefelspuetz, the party's parliamentary spokesman for home affairs, say police should be allowed to take DNA samples and store the data of any suspect - just as they would take a photo or a fingerprint.
Hamburg Justice Minister Roger Kusch said the CDU had long been in favour of more DNA testing but had repeatedly run up against a "Red-Green blockade" and the "pseudo-argument of data protection".
German police see DNA as a "wonder weapon" against crime. Since the Federal Police Department's DNA database was set up in 1998, 340 murder cases and 820 sexual offences have been solved with its help. Almost every fourth inquiry leads to a successful match.
Police were fortunate in the Moshammer case that their suspect had voluntary given a DNA sample during an earlier rape investigation. Because the investigation was later dropped the data was due to be erased.
However, opponents of widespread DNA testing say serious civil liberty issues are at stake. DNA analysis reveals sensitive genetic information including potential illnesses and could be open to abuse. Although police use the non-coded part of the genome the data still available could lead to racial profiling.
Greens party spokesman Volker Beck said rules must remain strict for collecting and storing DNA data as DNA tests could bring other personal information, such as illnesses, to light.
The party's legal expert, Jerzy Montag, said police had managed to catch Moshammer's killer according to the law as it now stood, which went to prove "that there is no hole in the law".
He added: "DNA analysis is both an excellent investigative tool and a serious intrusion of basic rights on the protection of personal data."
What was now needed was an "intelligent solution" to the use of DNA technology, he said.
Subject: German news