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Identification Procedures as a Part of Death Investigation in Turkey

Üzün, Ibrahim MD*; Daregenli, Öner MD,†; Şirin, Gözde MD,†; Müslümanoğlu, Ömer MD,†

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2012 - Volume 33 - Issue 1 - p 1–3
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3182243eae
Original Articles

Forensic identification techniques include the examination of ID cards, the decedent’s private belongings, fingerprints, footprints, lip marks, dental findings, red blood cell enzymes, performing photograph matching, facial reconstruction, visual identification, and DNA “fingerprinting.” As part of forensic examinations, the identification of corpses that are fresh, decomposed, fragmented, or skeletonized as well as individual body parts and human remains can be requested. Identification becomes a challenging task for forensic terms particularly in mass-disaster situations. Each identification case should be considered to its own merit and the way to do that should be based on the effectiveness and cost of each method used. In Turkey, one of the major duties of the medicolegal system on the investigation of deaths is to identify the deceased if unknown.

This study is undertaken to investigate the procedures, as well as their validities, used to deal with individualization of dismembered bodies directly sent to the Council of Forensic Medicine, Ministry of Justice, for autopsy and/or visual identification, as well as those received from peripheral districts for forensic identification. According to the Turkish Penal Procedural Law, a positive identification of the deceased is mandatory before performing an autopsy. According to the law, the ID cards are not taken to be sufficient for recognition of the deceased, and the major way of identification in daily practice is visual identification by a relative or any recognizant person to approve the identification to the prosecutor. If visual identification fails, fingerprints, dental x-rays or body x-rays, and DNA “fingerprinting” can be used to establish identity when compared with known records of the individual obtained by law enforcement.

This retrospective study was carried out into 421 dismembered bodies, among 3063 autopsies performed in year 2002 by the Department of Morgue at the Council of Forensic Medicine, with particular insight into the identification procedures undertaken and their results. The overall negative identification rate was 30.4%, and in 1% of the cases, the visual identification by relatives were not confirmed by DNA identification and taken as misidentified.

From the *Medical Faculty Forensic Medicine Division, Akdeniz University, Antalya; and †Council of Forensic Medicine, Ministry of Justice, İstanbul, Turkey.

Manuscript received January 4, 2008; accepted May 7, 2008.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Ibrahim Üzün, Adli Tıp Kurumu, Yenibosna, İstanbul, Turkey. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.