‘Lab did not meet international standards’

By Teoh El Sen, FMT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Chemistry Department of Malaysia, which did tests on DNA samples in the Anwar Ibrahim Sodomy II trial has never received an accreditation as it did not meet international standards.


Anwar’s defence team today alleged that the laboratory had applied for an accreditation from the American Society of Crime Lab Directors (ASCLD) but had failed to receive it since 2005.

“The department did the DNA test on Anwar’s DNA sample in 2008 when, all this while, it had failed to meet the ISO 17025 standard… it was given two extensions to apply for accreditation by the ASCLD. It only received a legacy accreditation, which is merely like a probation ” Anwar’s counsel Sankara Nair told reporters outside the court.

(ASCLD accredits laboratories and regulates international standards.)

“This affects the credibility of the DNA testing and the work methods of the department’s laboratory. This amounts to misleading the court,” he said, adding that chemist Dr Seah Lay Hong had earlier testified that her lab had met ISO 17025 standard.

Earlier, Australian DNA specialist Dr Brian Leslie McDonald said that having an accreditation was important and meeting certain standards ensure that labs around the whole have standardised results.

The 60-year-old consultant molecular geneticist from Sydney said that accreditation also gives recognition to a lab that has complied with standard guidelines.

Asked by defence lawyer Ram Karpal Singh Deo whether such accreditation is required in a Malaysian context, McDonald said: ” I don’t know, I would think if the government asks a lab to conduct tests, you must be accredited.”

Prosection wants evidence expunged

The line of questioning drew strong objections from lead prosecutor Solicitor-General II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden, who said McDonald was not competent to answer questions pertaining to the Malaysian Chemistry Department’s accreditation.

“This evidence is inadmissible… It should be expunged,” said Mohd Yusof, who had an exchange of words with Ram.

Referring to a letter that Ram had produced, Mohd Yusof said: “This is 2010, the test was conducted in 2008.”

McDonald, who is also an ISO assessor for the Australian body of accreditation National Association of Testing Authority, earlier explained how forensic DNA testings worked.

He said that in general, accreditation of a forensic laboratory should be disclosed, adding that it is an “obligation”, especially if its evidence is used in court.