Smell specimens inadmissible in court

9th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

9 February 2007, AMSTERDAM — Almost 2,700 smell specimens taken by the police at crime scenes in the northern and eastern Netherlands proved not to be valid, the justice ministry announced on Friday. These smell specimens were taken with the help of trained police dogs but the proper procedures were not always observed.

9 February 2007

AMSTERDAM — Almost 2,700 smell specimens taken by the police at crime scenes in the northern and eastern Netherlands proved not to be valid, the justice ministry announced on Friday. These smell specimens were taken with the help of trained police dogs but the proper procedures were not always observed.

The board of procurators general of the public prosecution department declared at the end of last year already that these specimens may no longer be used as evidence in the trials currently in progress.

Some of the cases which used any of the 2,685 specimens taken between September 1997 and March last year were thrown out of court, in other cases suspects were acquitted. It is not clear in how many cases using these specimens resulted in a conviction.

In gathering these specimens, the trained dog is first given a metal object used in the crime, a knife for instance. The suspect is then asked to hold a metal cylinder in his hand for some time. This metal cylinder is placed in a line up with a number of other “clean cylinders” that have not been handled by the suspect.

The trained dog should then be able to identify the smell from the crime object on one of the cylinders if the suspect is indeed guilty.

To prevent any chance of (subconscious) suggestion to the dog by its handler, the handler must not himself have any idea which cylinder has been held by the suspect. He must be outside the room when the line up is set up, for instance. This rule, however, has often been neglected, the Prosecutor’s Office said.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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