From the 21st to 23rd May 2008, experts from the police of the G8 countries (among the others the FBI, the Metropolitan Police of London, the Berlin Bundeskriminalamt), Interpol and the Academic community gathered in Rome to attend the meeting, organized by the Carabinieri Corps, in order to discuss the scientific, legal and technical details of the L4V Software. L4V (Looking for Victims) is the name that the scientists of the Carabinieri Scientific Investigations Department gave to the project, developed by the Carabinieri Corps and the Department of Statistics of the University of Florence, aimed to resolving the sensitive issues arising from mass disasters, either natural or man-made, air crashes, war-time massacres and terrorist attacks.
The need for identification, with certainty and speed, of the high number of fatalities caused by mass disasters, presents relevant aspects of legal and social character. This complexity must allow for the return to the families of the corpses of the people involved and to respect the last wishes of the victims, according to their religious beliefs. Indeed, in such many cases a large amount of victims can’t be identified just using the traditional scientific methods, therefore requiring a complex cross analysis among victims’ and families’ DNA profiles. At the moment, this extremely difficult operation is sometimes impossible and prevents the identification. A team made of biologists from the Italian Carabinieri Scientific Investigations Department and statisticians from the University of Florence worked for some years on the solution of this problem, leading to the drafting of a new technologically advanced application software.
The scientific tool, that fully meets the international standards on the respect of ethics, human rights and privacy, allows to manage and solve those situations, in which the identification of victims so far has been deemed critical, such as in case the DNA sample for comparison is not given by a parent or a child (standard situation) but by an uncle or a half-brother (non-standard situation). The ultimate objective is to obtain, after a period of testing, the global circulation of the instrument to enable its use in any case of serious disasters, especially in those countries where such phenomena occur, unfortunately, more and more frequently.
International law references:
- Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights;
- International Declaration on Human Genetic Data;
- Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights;
- L4V international legal aspects;
- L4V overview;
- L4V theory.
- Some mathematical problems in the DNA identification of victims in the 2004 tsunami and similar mass fatalities;
- Symbolic Kinship Program
- Issues and strategies in the DNA identification of World Trade Center victims
- Development under extreme conditions: forensic bioinformatics in the wake of the world trade center disaster
- Human Identification Software for Missing Persons, Scalable for a Mass Fatality Incident: Building on Lessons Learned Over the Course of a Major Disaster
- Forensic identification of relatives of individuals included in a database of DNA profiles
- Identification of bodies from the scene of a mass disaster using DNA amplification of short tandem repeat (STR) loci
- Comment on Schwarz and Arnason: Estimation of Age-Specific Breeding Probabilities from Capture-Recapture Data
- Likelihood Ratios for Evaluating DNA Evidence When the Suspect is Found Through a Database Search
- Identification of the Victims of a Mass Fatality Incident based on nuclear DNA evidence