French police stumped by twins with almost identical DNA

Feb 11, 2013

Brothers arrested over series of rapes, but police can't say which one is to blame as DNA is too similar

FRENCH police have arrested identical twins over a series of rapes in Marseilles, but are unable to say which of the two brothers they believe is responsible for the attacks as they cannot distinguish between their DNA.

The two 24-year-old unemployed delivery drivers, identified only by their first names Elwin and Yohan, have both been charged over the attacks and are being held without bail as investigators attempt to distinguish between their genetic codes.

Six victims aged between 22 and 76 have come forward. They were all attacked in entrance halls or stairwells of buildings between September last year and January.

Police used CCTV and a telephone stolen from one of the victims to track down the person they thought was responsible, but were shocked to find twins living together at the address.

When shown pictures of the twins the victims recognised the person who had attacked them, but were unable to say which of the brothers it was.

DNA was recovered from the scene of the attacks, but it could cost up to €1m to determine which brother it came from, as their genetic codes are almost identical.

Emmanuel Kiehl, the police chief overseeing the investigation, described it as a "rather rare case". He told French paper La Provence that the role of each of the two brothers had yet to be clarified and said that tests to establish which the DNA came from could only be carried out in a few laboratories.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the authorities are committed to "going through with plans to complete the 'enormous' job of decoding the DNA of the suspects".

The paper explains that there are tiny differences in the DNA of identical twins, but quotes a specialist who told French media that the process of identifying them was "expensive and not fully developed and remains confined to research laboratories".

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