Presents data on detection of corporal injuries in subjects without signs of violent death delivered to Bureau of Forensic Medical Expert Evaluation. Recommendations for analysis of such cases are offered.
Autopsy findings in 270 fatal head injuries from firearms are reported, including 243 suicides and 27 homicides. The most frequent weapon used for both groups were shot guns which are easily available in Norway. For suicides the most favored sites were right tempoparietal, frontal, and mouth. Twenty-six percent of the victims from homicides had multiple wounds in their head. Suicide by firearms showed marked male predominance, whereas the sex ratio for homicide was rather equal between the two sexes.
In January 1999, a team of Finnish forensic experts under the mandate of the European Union (EU forensic expert team, EU-FET) performed forensic investigations in a sovereign state, in Kosovo, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). The team served as a neutral participant in the forensic investigation of victims of an incident at Racak, which was receiving considerable international attention. The Finnish team performed forensic autopsies, monitored forensic autopsies performed by local experts and verified findings of earlier executed autopsies. The victims had sustained varying numbers of gunshot wounds, which were established to be the cause of death. The manner of death remained undetermined by the EU-FET, because the scene investigation and the chain of custody for the bodies from the site of the incident to the autopsy were impossible to verify by the team. The events at Racak were the first of those leading to charges by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) against the highest authorities in power in the FRY for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war.
A forensiometric model to discriminate between homicidal and suicidal firearm-fatalities is presented. It is based on a survey of all 45 homicidal and 251 suicidal firearm-fatalities that were examined at the Department of Forensic Medicine in Stockholm, Sweden during the period 1983-92. The model used 15 variables to describe 19.8% of the variation in the data and its goodness of prediction, Q2, was 0.742. The variables ranked in falling order of covariation with homicide (i.e. correlation with or importance in the prediction of homicide) were: presence of other injuries than firearm-wounds, entrance wound in the front part of the chest except precordium, bullet path through clothes, entrance wound in upper extremity, female victim, entrance wound in abdomen, entrance wound in head except temples, central forehead and mouth, and entrance wound in back. The variables most correlated to suicide were: used firearm found close to victim's body, reported suicidal ideation, victim's age, presence of contact wound(s), male victim, presence of farewell letter and entrance wound in mouth. The model was thereafter validated on a test-set of 18 homicides and 84 suicides during 1993-95. All suicides and 16 homicides were classified by the model in agreement with the previous police and forensic medical examinations. Thus, the model's sensitivity to classify homicides is estimated to be 89% and its specificity 100%.
The 7.62 mm x 51 military rifle bullet (7.62 mm NATO) as manufactured in Denmark, and in some other countries as well, has been claimed to fragment when fired at ranges encountered in forensic practice. All autopsied cases of death due to this bullet in Denmark since 1975 were investigated by studying autopsy reports and the bullets retrieved by the police. With one exception, all bullets that were found in, or known to have passed through the body, had fragmented. This behaviour is assumed to be due to a lack of strength in the jacket causing it to break at the cannelure when hitting the target at high velocity. The fragments will increase the already sizeable lesions and may leave the body through several separate exit wounds, presenting problems both for the surgeon treating survivors and for the forensic scientists when defining the direction of the shot. The legality of this and similar bullets in view of the Hague Declaration of 1899 may be questioned, and we feel that the bullet should be redesigned. A programme to this end has been initiated by the Danish state owned ammunition factory.