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Mass DNA testing used to find rape suspect at French school

Authorities in France are asking 527 male students and staff of a private school to submit to DNA testing to search out an accused rapist.

Last September, a 16-year-old girl was attacked in a dark bathroom at the Fenelon-Notre Dame Catholic school in La Rochelle. The victim could not identify her assailant, but traces of DNA were found on her clothing. (Via Al Jazeera)

Although the DNA testing is technically voluntary, public prosecutor Isabelle Pagenelle says anyone who refuses would fall under suspicion. She told BFM-TV the DNA samples of the innocent would be destroyed after testing.

Some human rights activists have criticized the DNA dragnet as a violation of privacy. French human rights league president Pierre Tartakoswky called the tests "disproportionate, threatening and traumatising," and accused police of presuming guilt among the school's male population. "Why should refusal be considered an admission of guilt?" (Via The Telegraph)

But police report so far no one has refused the DNA screening. One student told France 24 he's happy to participate if it means finding the attacker.

"Everyone's taking part without any problems, because we feel solidarity with the girl who was raped,” the student said. “And we all want to find the perpetrator."

Police collected DNA from about 250 people Monday and expect to complete the process by Wednesday. The results should be available in about a month.


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