South African experts in forensics, search and rescue to help in Marvin Asba case






More than a month after being reported missing Marvin Asba has still not been found and on Thursday evening an expert in forensics and missing persons, Brigadier Leonie Ras from South Africa, arrived in the country to help in the case.

The expert, who was recommended to the Seychelles Police by Interpol following a request for help the local police made last month, is accompanied by two expert dog handlers specialised in search and rescue ‒ warrant officers Van Rooyen and Prinsloo whose dogs are trained in detecting a person on and below the ground as well as in the water.

Yesterday morning the team was briefed by police commissioner Reginald Elizabeth and the CID officer leading the investigation as well as other officers working on the case.

Speaking to the local press soon after the briefing, Commissioner Elizabeth said it has taken some time for the expert to arrive as there are procedures to follow and the expert had to conclude work on important cases she was working on before being granted authorisation from her superiors to travel here.

Commissioner Elizabeth said the experts have received a detailed overview of the case from the day the young man was reported missing, all the investigation that  has taken place up to now so they could add their input and decide on how to conduct their own investigation.

Asked if it is not too late and whether all possible evidence that may still be around have not been wiped out by now, Commissioner Elizabeth said the experts know better and if that was possible they would not have accepted to come here.

“We expect them to remain in the country for seven days but this will depend on how the investigation progresses and if there is a need their stay will be extended,” Commissioner Elizabeth pointed out.

Asked if there has been any new developments on the case for the last two weeks, Commissioner Elizabeth said the police do continue to receive some leads every now and then from the public which it pursues but nothing concrete has come up to date.

With regard to the DNA tests being conducted on blood samples sent to Mauritius, Commissioner Elizabeth said the police are still awaiting the results.

“We have made a request to the Mauritian government to send the samples, we have stressed the urgency but the final decision is with the laboratory which has its own protocols and priorities. But I can reassure the Seychellois public that I am in touch with the laboratory and it has confirmed today (Friday) that the tests are being run and I expect that we can receive the report by next week,” Commissioner Elizabeth affirmed.

Meanwhile Commissioner Elizabeth has rejected reports that the tests are being done in South Africa. He said people should not get confused and mix up all the information they are getting.

He explained that South Africa is helping us only with the forensic, search and rescue experts.

Asked if there were no other options that could have been explored in order to get the samples examined faster like for instance using the services of private clinics based here, Commissioner Elizabeth explained that no laboratory or private clinic here conduct the kind of DNA tests associated with criminal investigations and that these tests usually take more than a week.

“I can assure you that as much as possible if we had a way to obtain these results as quickly as possible we would have used it but we have done all that we can and we have been informed that there are some crime cases which have been given priority over ours so we need to show a little more patience,” Commissioner Elizabeth pointed out.  

He went on to explain that in order to send samples for testing in a laboratory abroad there need to be in place agreements or memoranda of understanding between countries to make this possible.

He noted that in the past such samples were sent to South Africa and India but the waiting time for results was way too long which had serious impacts on court cases.

He stressed that the only way to address the problem is for Seychelles to have its own laboratory to carry out these tests.

Refuting public remarks that the police are not doing much to find Mr Asba, Commissioner Elizabeth stressed that through his several decades of experience in the police he has never seen so much resources invested in a missing person case than this one and that it is therefore unfair and not true to say that not much is being done.

Commissioner Elizabeth has meanwhile reminded members of the public that the R100,000 reward is still being offered to any person who can provide information which would lead the police to where Marvin Asba is.





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