Identification of War Victims in Ukraine. How the Forensic Military Task Force of the French Gendarmerie (IRCGN) Identified Ukrainian Victims during the Conflict using an Innovative High throughput DNA Fast Analysis Mobile Lab

Thursday November 3rd, 2022 // 11:20 am - 11:40 am // Woodrow Wilson Ballroom

On February 24th, 2022, Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, launches a special military operation leading to the invasion of Ukraine in the direction of the capital, Kyiv. At the end of February, Russian forces take the city of Bucha located in the suburbs of Kyiv and occupy the field for a month. At the end of March, Russian troops are pushed back by Ukrainian forces and redeployed to the east and south of the country. Retreating Russians leave territories and military equipment destroyed by the fighting as well as traces of violence on civilians. In Bucha, hundreds of corpses are found in the streets and in several improvised mass graves. Russia stands accused of war crimes, as western leaders condemned the killings of unarmed civilians. The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, responds favorably to the request of the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. Emmanuel Macron decides to send experts from the Forensic science laboratory of the French Gendarmerie (IRCGN) to identify the victims and determine the causes of death. To this end, the IRCGN has projected a task force of 16 military experts in DNA, odontology, fingerprints, legal medicine and ballistic. During 5 weeks from April to May 2022, the mobile DNA lab patented by the gendarmerie and ISO/CEI 17025 certified, was used on site to perform more than 200 DNA analysis from cadavers and victims’ families.  Therefore, the mobile system provided real time victim identification with DNA typing. This specialized mobile lab unit enables collection, extraction, quantification and analysis of DNA from all types of human samples including bones at the same level of performance as a traditional laboratory setting. The system, tools, protocols and expectations from a theatre of war will be presented.


Private: Sylvain Hubac

Head of DNA Division, Forensic Science Laboratory, French Gendarmerie (IRCGN)

Dr Hubac joined in 2004 the French national Gendarmerie at the Forensic Science laboratory (IRCGN) to carry out research, development and validation of methods for DNA analysis. The positions he has held at the IRCGN include deputy head and head of the high throughput DNA unit for reference samples, head of DNA unit for casework samples and DNA expert since 2007 and now head of the DNA division including reference samples and casework units.

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