During the seminar in Marrakesh
During the seminar in Marrakesh
Morocco

On 2 and 3 July 2019, the IRZ together with the Moroccan Public Prosecutor's Office staged a conference in Marrakech on "Discovery of corpses - cooperation between the judiciary, forensic medicine and the police". The event was directed at public prosecutors and was held within the framework of the project "Cooperation with the Kingdom of Morocco in the field of forensic medicine with special focus on the needs of the Moroccan judiciary". The project is being implemented by the IRZ over the period 2017 to 2019 thanks to project funding being provided by the German Federal Foreign Office (transformation partnerships with North Africa/the Middle East).

The aim and objective of the conference was to demonstrate to the participants the importance of trustworthy cooperation between the public prosecutor's office, forensic medicine and the police. The crucial role that each of these three actors plays in the investigation of criminal offences was discussed using the practical example of a corpse being found. 

At the beginning of the event, Samouth Hafid, representing the Moroccan Public Prosecutor's Office, discussed the current situation surrounding forensic medicine in Morocco. There are now 15 full-time forensic scientists working in the country who have completed four years of educational training at the University of Casablanca, and 12 more who are currently undergoing educational training. The latter group will be available to work for government authorities in about one and a half years. Public prosecutor Samouth Hafid stressed that there are still too few forensic doctors in this country of about 35 million inhabitants. Especially in the south of the country, authorities are forced to have general practitioners at hospitals perform autopsies. This was said to lead to many mistakes in forensic medical reports. The new Act on a Professional Code of Conduct for Forensic Medical Practitioners, which is currently on the table before the upper house of Parliament in Morocco and is expected to be enacted by the end of the year, lays down clear rules for the practice of forensic medicine by general practitioners as well as mandatory continuing educational training requirements. 

The following German participants took part in the workshop on behalf of the IRZ:

  • Dr. Lars Oesterhelweg, Senior Physician and Deputy Director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine of Charité Berlin, 
  • Ralph Knispel, Senior Public Prosecutor, Head of the Department for Capital Offences at the Berlin Public Prosecutor's Office and Chairman of the Vereinigung Berliner Staatsanwälte e.V. (Association of Berlin Public Prosecutors), and
  • Katharina Tomalla, Chief Detective and Deputy Head of the 5th Homicide Unit at the Berlin State Office of Criminal Investigations.

On the first day, the speakers from Berlin each gave a presentation on their work and sketched out the nature of their cooperation. 

The second day they did a deep dive: From his vantage point as a forensic scientist, Dr. Lars Oesterhelweg described the quality criteria that apply to a forensic medical report. Chief Detective Katharina Tomalla concentrated on the prioritisation of traces at the scene of a crime, illustrating her presentation with individual examples. Finally, Senior Public Prosecutor Ralph Knispel concentrated in his lecture on the assessment of forensic expert opinions in court, while discussing various individual provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure of importance. 

The topic met with considerable interest among the participants. This was also underscored by the many questions and contributions to the discussion. The last seminar of this kind will be taking place in Fes at the end of September this year.