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Jan 26, 2023

New Lab Spaces for Histopathology & Toxicology at the National Forensic Science Service

In Belize, there are approximately fifty forensic practitioners. In the forensic lab there are fifteen, five in the medical examiner’s office and in the scenes of crime unit, there are thirty-five crime scene technicians. Today, new laboratory spaces for the National Forensic Science Service were officially inaugurated at its Ladyville headquarters. Over three years in the making and approximately a million dollars later, the new spaces will provide for improved services. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Two new laboratory spaces have been added to the National Forensic Science Service through assistance from the European Union and the Government of Belize.


Marianne Van Steen

Marianne Van Steen, EU Ambassador

“This will add great value to the already intensive work that the Belizean authorities are doing. I just got a tour and they explained me all the new equipment they received and I was very happy to hear that they did not only receive the equipment, but they also received training because this is not easy. For someone like me, I have never been following these kinds of things, but I have learned a lot. But I do realise that this is really science; this is not easy. So I am happy that we have been able to provide a little humble contribute to something which is really important.”


Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs

“Our current medico legal death investigation system is undergoing various initiatives to enhance the ways by which reportable medico legal deaths are investigated by our authorities. These include all sudden, unexpected, unexplained, criminally suspicious, accidental or violent deaths that occur within the borders and maritime areas of Belize. Projects like the AC 1 ICRIME project which is culminating today in the formal handing over of laboratory spaces for toxicology and histopathology significantly increase the capacity of our authorities in particular the NFSS to provide reliable and objective scientific evidence based on established forensic and legal medicine principles for all cases under investigation.”


Commissioner of Police Chester Williams speaks about how this new development at the NFSS will help with the department’s crime fighting strategy for the country.


Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“We have always trusted our pathologists who are well-trained; the lab now is going to give them additional equipment, additional tools to be able to be more efficient in what they do as medical examiners. Scientific evidence certainly helps any investigation and we are hoping that with this new addition, we will be able to have more conclusive cause of deaths. There are instances where bodies are found and when post-mortems are conducted the cause of death is inconclusive. I think now that with this we should see less of that. I don’t think it is going to eliminate totally the inconclusive nature of deaths, but it will help to minimize those inconclusive causes of deaths.”


Executive Director of the National Forensic Science Service Gian Cho says that the histopathology and toxicology spaces will allow for the department to provide results for drug content in samples taken for investigation purposes.


Gian Cho

Gian Cho, Executive Director, National Forensic Science Service

“Currently we only detect and confirm and quantify ethanol in either blood, urine or virtuous fluid or fluid from the eye. Now with the addition of the LCMSMS equipment, we can detect and quantify additional types of substances such as cocaine, ecstasy, common drugs of abuse. Not overnight. We have to develop the methods; we have to make sure the methods undergo certain quality controls, quality assurance processes, some finalise training needs to occur by the project support team so that hopefully later this year, we can offer these additional toxicology services. We have an additional type of testing to support the scientific determination of cause of death, so it is not just the naked eye type of findings. We are looking under the microscope to find the supporting evidence to conclude a particular cause of death and manner of death. And that also will rely on the toxicology services that I just mentioned; cocaine in someone’s blood stream, etc. So it all ties in together to support better death investigations.”


The EU donated eight hundred and twenty thousand Belize dollars and government invested over one hundred thousand Belize dollars for the project. Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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