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Slow production of forensic, ballistic certificates hampers BSI investigations

Published:Friday | February 8, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator

The Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI) says it continues to be hamstrung by the slow pace at which forensic and ballistic certificates are produced.

At the same time, the BSI said it is awaiting rulings in over 100 cases, the files of each were sent to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

With investigations into at least 485 cases completed, some as far back as 2002, the BSI said the receipt of the certification is the only thing preventing the files being sent to the DPP for consideration.

"One hundred and fifty-two of these files were returned by the DPP's office requesting these certificates, plus, in addition, we completed 332 files which are awaiting these documents to be sent off to the DPP," head of the BSI, Senior Superintendent Ezra Stewart, told The Gleaner yesterday.

The BSI said some of the cases which they have investigated and for which certificates are outstanding are more than a decade old.

256 fatal shooting cases

Stewart said that of the 332 completed files, 256 of the cases are related to fatal shootings by the police. The other 76 files relate to incidents in which persons have been shot and injured by the lawmen.

While the efficiency of the Government Forensic Laboratory is being questioned, Stewart said he has seen some signs of improvement recently.

The forensic capability of the Jamaica Constabulary Force was among several issues raised by former Assistant Commissioner Les Green during an interview with British newspaper The Mirror a week ago.

Green was quoted as saying that when he first arrived in Jamaica, the forensic capability was very poor and ineffective. He was further quoted as saying that in Jamaica it still takes up to two years to get DNA results, unlike in the United Kingdom where these documents could be obtain in two days.

As at February 2, at least 31 civilians were killed by members of the security forces. Thirty of these persons were killed by the police and one by a member of the Jamaica Defence Force.