Participants and speakers at the seminar in Rabat
Participants and speakers at the seminar in Rabat

On 6 and 7 February 2019 the IRZ, together with the Moroccan Public Prosecutor’s Office in Marrakesh, organised a seminar on „An introduction to toxicology“. This took place as part of the project on “Cooperation with the Kingdom of Morocco in the field of legal and forensic medicine, with particular consideration paid to the concerns of the Moroccan justice system” project, which the IRZ is coordinating between 2017 and 2019 as part of the project financed by the Federal Foreign Office (Transformation Partnerships with North Africa/the Middle East).

As in the previous year, some 30 public prosecutors and forensic scientists received basic training in the work of toxicological laboratories. +The objective was to show the possibilities provided by toxicology in investigative work. Urine, blood, hair and organs can be used to make statements about the possible cause of death by various substances.

The two German toxicologists André Niebel und Lena Westendorf from the Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine at the Charité Berlin were invited as experts. They talked about the significance and methods of toxicological examinations for clarifying deaths with the help of examples from a large number of selected death cases. Representatives of the Moroccan Sûreté Nationale and the Gendarmerie Royale also gave lectures about the work in the toxicological laboratories of their institutes.

In Morocco, there are currently only three laboratories (two in Rabat and one in Casablanca) where samples can be examined. The inappropriate storage of samples during transport is therefore a big problem.

Many participants made the most of the discussions to address current problems in the cooperation between legal and forensic medicine, toxicology and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. A particular point of criticism was the fact that toxicologists are not provided with any information about legal and forensic reports after being entrusted with an examination by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which makes their work much harder, whereas in Germany, legal and forensic medicine and toxicology work hand in hand. The lively discussions show that this is an important topic and that there is further need of discussions and advice.

Another seminar is due to take place on this subject in Tanger at the end of 2019.