Double trouble: French rape case impeded by twins’ identical DNA

Researcher using a GeneChip of US company Affymetrix which manufacturates DNA microarrays, in a laboratory of French biopharmaceutical company Genfit (AFP Photo / Philippe Huguen)
Police in Marseille have arrested identical twin brothers for a string of sexual assaults. Officers believe one, if not both men are to blame, but cannot be sure as the pair’s DNA is nearly indistinguishable.

Police have charged both men, identified as 24-year old unemployed delivery drivers Elwin and Yohan, over the rapes. Both are being held with bail.

Standard DNA tests are unable to differentiate between their DNA, only far more difficult and potentially cost prohibitive tests would be necessary to figure out who is the culprit.

The pair deny any involvement in the rapes of six women, aged 22 to 76, between September and January.

Police were able to track down the men after being identified by CCTV footage shot on a bus. A cell phone allegedly stolen from one of the victims was also found in the brothers’ possession. The victims were also able to identify their attacker, but not tell them apart.

"It's a rather rare case for the alleged perpetrators to be identical twins," chief investigator Emmanuel Kiehl told AFP.

Kiehl said DNA evidence was discovered at some of the crime scenes, though the cost of extensive-enough tests would be "onerous."

Due to the highly complicated nature of the tests, it could reportedly cost up to $1.3 million dollars to carry them out.

One DNA expert told the French newspaper La Provence "For a normal analysis we compare 400 base pairs[of nucleotides].” In order to differentiate between the twins, "We would be looking at billions," he added.

Vladimir Kremlev for RT
Vladimir Kremlev for RT