1 March 2014

South Africa: As Oscar Looms, Ketani DNA Expert Gives His Verdict On SA Justice System


A substantial part of the Oscar Pistorius debate is about our justice system and whether the blade runner will get a fair trial. This week, away from the eyes of the world, a grandmaster of forensics - who has testified in war crimes tribunals at the Hague - gave evidence in the Betty Ketani murder trial. And, as ALEX ELISEEV reports, his verdict is that South Africa has a fair and mature legal system.

Dr. Thomas Parsons exists in a different realm to the rest of us. A different dimension. His mind crunches Bayesian calculations for breakfast and terms like "polymerase chain reaction" and "capillary electropherogram" slide off his tongue like names of rugby or cricket players.

He has a PHD in molecular biology and specialises in ancient DNA and population genetics. His CV is over 20 pages long and just looking at him can make you feel like you're been wasting whatever intellect you were lucky enough to win at the IQ lottery.

Parsons is a thin man, with neat white hair and an American twang. When testifying, he never rushes to an answer, processing every word like a super-computer. He never simply agrees with a statement and often ...

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