MELBOURNE (Somalilandpress) — AN INNOCENT man who served 15 months in jail after being wrongly convicted of rape based on a DNA bungle has spoken of his terrifying experience.
Speaking after the release of a scathing report on the handling of his case, Farah Jama, 22, said he wanted an apology from the government after he was jailed for ”no reason”.
”Nobody will understand the pain I went through … or the stress,” Mr Jama said. ”You kind of lose hope.”
The conviction against Mr Jama was quashed last December, with the prosecutor admitting a ”substantial miscarriage of justice” as the DNA evidence was contaminated.
The report by former Supreme Court judge Frank Vincent – tabled in Parliament yesterday – slammed Victoria Police, the Office of Public Prosecutions, and forensic medical officers over the case and the authorities’ failure to consider any other evidence connecting Mr Jama to a crime that never occurred.
Following the release yesterday of a separate report on DNA analysis, Victoria Police will overhaul flawed DNA procedures that delayed court cases and brought the science into question.
Police will adopt all recommendations and findings of the independent international team of experts headed by Professor Jim Fraser of the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. Their report said there should be a review of how DNA was recovered from crime scenes and that cramped laboratories ran ”unnecessary risks of contamination”.
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The report also said measures should be taken to minimise contamination by introducing protective clothing and disposable masks and coats in forensic laboratories.
Last December, Chief Commissioner Simon Overland banned police scientists from giving evidence in court until further notice after it was discovered that statistical analysis used to interpret DNA tests had not kept pace with new-generation DNA equipment.
The ban came days after Mr Jama’s rape conviction was overturned because of contaminated DNA evidence, and lasted until January 12.
In his report on Farah Jama, Mr Vincent said: ”The DNA evidence appears to have been viewed as possessing an almost mystical infallibility. The outcome was, in the circumstances, patently absurd,” he reported.
”There were ample warning signs … but they were simply not read.”
Mr Jama had been convicted of raping a woman, 48, found semi-conscious in a nightclub toilet cubicle in 2006.
Mr Vincent said there was an unreserved acceptance of the DNA evidence that allowed all involved to leap over a ”veritable mountain of improbabilities” in the case.
With Mr Jama pursuing a potentially multimillion-dollar compensation claim, his lawyer Kimani Boden said racism was a factor in the jury’s decision to convict.
Mr Boden said there was no corroborating evidence in the case against Mr Jama.
Attorney-General Rob Hulls apologised to Mr Jama yesterday for the ”injustice” and said compensation negotiations were taking place.
Photo: Farah Jama’s case sparked a review of the use of DNA evidence. (AAP: Joe Castro)
Source: The Age (Man tells of ordeal of wrong conviction for rape) | May 07, 2010