Experts examine dumped bodies, to run DNA tests

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A team of DNA experts at Yala sub-county hospital mortuary in Siaya county after collecting samples from bodies retrieved at River Yala. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

The process of identifying the bodies retrieved from River Yala and the cause of deaths started yesterday as the government carried out an autopsy on the remains and took samples for DNA tests.

Two families who had identified their kin at Yala sub-County Hospital mortuary were among those who turned up to witness the process.

Also present were human rights activists and a team of forensic experts from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

Three tents were set up inside the morgue compound for DNA sampling and counselling of families, the DCI officers, and for pathologists and human remains identification.

Siaya Health Executive Dismas Wakla said 23 bodies retrieved from River Yala were at the morgue. Two have been identified and claimed by their kin.

Yesterday, family members of the two victims who had been identified said they were told by the DCI that DNA results are expected in two weeks’ time, while post-mortem results are likely to be out in two days because of the condition of the bodies.

Naomi Cheptoo, who is the sister of Philemon Chepkwony, and Mutiso Nzomo, the brother of Peter Mutuku, whose bodies were retrieved from the river last December, said they had earlier been informed that the autopsy would be done on Tuesday.

“We were told to be at the morgue on Tuesday for the post-mortem and DNA sampling but the pathologist was not here. We have to make daily trips from Yala to Kericho while my family is coming all the way from Nairobi, which is very hectic and expensive. We hope now that it has started we will not experience any more delays,” said Mr Nzomo.

Human rights activists who addressed the media outside the morgue asked MPs to formulate a law that will establish a DNA repository that will collect details of all Kenyans immediately after birth.

Led by Haki Africa Executive Director Khalid Hussein and Independent Medico-Legal unit (IMLU) official Stephen Mugacho, they said if enacted and implemented, the law would make the process of getting DNA results shorter and easier.

They said two families that had identified their kin will be the first ones to go through the DNA process while the post-mortem will be undertaken for all families.

Mr Khalid said families who identify their relatives’ bodies will not bury them until DNA tests are done.

Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo asked the State to evacuate the bodies retrieved from River Yala to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary in Kisumu.

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