The Assessment of Expert Evidence on DNA in Malaysia

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Abstract

One of the most common forms of evidence used by the Public Prosecutor in a courtroom to prove a case is DNA evidence. The DNA evidence process started when the police collected the physical evidence relevant to the alleged offence at the crime scene. The collected evidence will then usually be sent to the Department of Chemistry Malaysia for DNA analysis. The chemist will extract the DNA from the relevant physical evidence by using specific techniques. The outcome of the analysis will be used to complete the investigation of the case. Being an independent organization, the Chemistry Department strives to provide impartial forensic science analysis. Thus, from the analysis, sometimes DNA evidence does not necessarily implicate the accused with the alleged offence but may also disclose the involvement of a third party in the alleged offence that may cast doubt on the prosecution’s case. This can be seen in the Federal Court’s case of Public Prosecutor v Hanif Basree Abdul Rahman [2008] 4 CLJ 1. The evidence will then be presented by the prosecution before the court to assist judges in making the right decisions. This indicates the important role played by an expert in the court decision making process. In this context, questions always arise as to the probative value of DNA evidence given by experts in the courtroom. Can the court convict a person solely on DNA evidence? This article focuses on the position of DNA experts in Malaysia under section 45 of the Evidence Act 1950. It was found that although the DNA evidence is given by the experts, the probative value depends on the nature of the evidence itself.

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