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Al Ansari exchange robbery Image Credit:

Sharjah: Two of the five Africans arrested in connection with the Dh2 million heist at an exchange house in March this year were identified thanks to DNA matches conducted by the Sharjah Police Forensic Laboratory, top officials said on Monday.

Speaking to the press on a tour of the lab on Monday, Brigadier Ahmad Al Serkal, Director-General of the Sharjah Police Forensic Laboratory, said

this case was among the 164 crimes solved by the laboratory by finding matches from 6,412 DNA imprints in its database,

On March 20 this year, five armed African men in their 20s stole currency worth over Dh2 million during a seven-minute heist at the Al Tauwain branch of Al Ansari Exchange close to midnight. The gang members subsequently spread themselves out in other emirates to escape notice. But a special police team traced their whereabouts, arrested one of them within 48 hours and manged tio catch up with the others in their hideouts in Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi soon after. Two of these gang members were identified with the help of DNA tests conducted on samples collected.

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Brigadier/ Ahmed Haji Al Serkal(left), Head of the criminal laboratory, Sharjah Police, during the press conference to announce the achievements of the forensic laboratory (Modern artistic experiennces and practice) at Sharjah Police headquarters, Sharjah. 30th December 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Brigadier Ahmad Al Serkal said the lab is working on further building the DNA database with information on detainees and criminals.

He said in cases of murder and rape, DNA tests help the police to identify suspects. The DNA tests have also offered proof of family kinship during parental and inheritance disputes referred by the courts.

“Many international experts have used the laboratory’s DNA results and findings for investigations,” he said, adding that a joint cooperation between the Forensic Laboratory and the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia had helped examine sample DNAs of 67 human remains from the time of World War II.

He said the lab housed an advanced mitochondria DNA testing system — considered the most accurate and sophisticated in the field.

15,513 cases resolved

Hashish wraps in a box of cheese, gold concealed in a capsule, crystal meth in a bag of sesame seeds --- these are some of the smuggled substances that Sharjah Police have unearthed in the last one year, thanks to its expertise at the Sharjah Police Forensic Laboratory.

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Brigadier/ Ahmed Haji Al Serkal(center), Head of the criminal laboratory, Sharjah Police, and Brigadier/ Arif Hassan bin Hudaib(right), Director of Media and Public Relations Department, Sharjah Police, and Colonel Adil Al Maazmi, Fire expert(left), during the press conference to announce the achievements of the forensic laboratory (Modern artistic experiennces and practice) at Sharjah Police headquarters, Sharjah. 30th December 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Brigadier Ahmad Al Serkal said it had helped resolve 15,513 cases in 2019 compared to 13,054 cases in 2018, with 47,552 samples being tested to detect illegal substances, chemicals, toxins and weapons, besides identifying finger prints, fraud and forgery.

He said, “The forensic department has played a crucial role in solving a huge number of crimes in the emirate of Sharjah and the neighbouring emirate.”

He said a man carrying a capsule was arrested at the airport recently after forensic experts detected a mismatch between the small size of the capsule and its heavy weight. The man, it turned out, had managed to pack in 240 gram of gold inside. The capsule, in the form of an organic paste, was exposed to a flame following which it evaporated, leaving the pure 24 carat gold behind.

Similarly, authorities were able to seize 526.8 grams of methamphetamine after sifting through a bag containing sesame seeds. The forensic laboratory also received a sealed packet of cheese which when tested contained hashish wraps inside.

Brigadier Serkal said the laboratory handed over the reports to the police, public prosecution and courts for due action.

He said the forensics department underwent expansion and introduced advanced technology to achieve accurate results and resolve complex cases. Among the new devices at the lab are a gene scanner, electron microscope and a detector for inorganic compounds.