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Police to keep DNA database of suspected criminals

The DNA of felons such as murderers and rapists will be maintained as criminal investigation reference data.

The law on the use and preservation of personal genetic information will take effect next Monday, National Police Agency said Wednesday.

The law authorizes police and prosecutors to collect the DNA of those convicted of or arrested for committing serious crimes.

The genetic information is to be encoded and permanently preserved in the police or prosecutorial database, said officials.

The list of crimes subject to the new law includes rape, murder, robbery and arson.

Pedophiles, who are highly prone to committing second offenses, will be the main target, said officials.

With the consent of the subject, officials will collect the DNA from the oral membrane tissues. Should the subject refuse to cooperate, they may enforce the processes with a court-issued warrant.

Some 15,000 people on average are arrested every year for the felonies covered by the new DNA law, according to the NPA.

“Once the DNA database is fully operational, investigators will easily be able to pinpoint the suspect, based on the genetic evidence left at the crime scene,” said an official of the NPA.

“The data will also enable the police to track past unsolved cases.”

The police also earlier this month expanded and relocated the National Institute of Scientific Investigation’s genetic identification center to Yangcheon-gu, western Seoul.

Officials also raised the allocated budget and upgraded the facilities and manpower, as to implement the new law.

Once the law takes effect, the police will first set out to collect the DNA of notorious child rapists such as Cho Doo-soon, Kim Gil-tae, and Kim Soo-cheol.

Cho, who brutally raped and permanently injured an 8-year-old girl in 2008, is presently serving his 12-year jail term.

Kim lodged an appeal to the high court earlier this month as he was sentenced to death by the lower court for raping and murdering a teenage girl in Busan this March.

The other Kim underwent his first court hearing on Wednesday on charges of kidnapping and raping an 8-year-old girl.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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