Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Sufficient Evidence

On July 2nd I attended the trial of a drug case which could carry the death penalty. The drugs found as evidence were 'discovered' by police in a car which had been parked outside the hotel room of the accused. He claimed that the car had been parked there by a friend who had promised to return to collect it within the hour. Plain clothes police arrested him in his hotel room in the account of the accused, but outside a 7/11 store according to police. He was brought to a police station where after an hour or so he was brought out to witness the search of the car in the presence of many police men standing around. All the car doors were open. A police man climbed onto the back seat, felt underneath with his hand, and produced a plastic bag of a crystalline substance, to the cheers and laughter of the onlookers. The defendant claimed that he had never entered the car, nor driven it. A receipt showed that the car had indeed been rented by the 'friend'.
Fingerprinting is a relatively simple technology which has been in use for over a hundred years. Surely it would have been easy to check the interior of the car for fingerprints of the accused, and the plastic bag found there. Nor was there a forensic examination of the hands or clothes of the accused for traces of drugs.
He may be condemned to death. On what evidence?

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