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Expert testimony raises questions over DNA evidence in missing journo trial

An expert testimony on Monday has raised questions over key DNA evidence in the trial over missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

The Maldives Independent reporter Rilwan went missing nearly four years ago and his disappearance remains arguably the biggest unsolved mystery in the archipelago.

Prosecutors have charged two men - Ahmed Aalif Rauf and Mohamed Nooraddeen with terrorism. Both however, had denied the charges.

Investigators believe that Rilwan had been forced into a red car owned by Aalif where the victim's DNA had been found which had been matched to Rilwan's mother.

During the hearing on Monday, the court had heard the testimony of the police expert who had analyzed the DNA test results which were done abroad.

The expert said the police had carried out a mitochondrial DNA test of one of the five hairs found in the car.

A mitochondrial DNA test traces a person's matrilineal or mother-line ancestry using the DNA in his or her mitochondria which is passed down by the mother unchanged, to all her children, both male and female, the expert told the court.

According to the expert, the nature of the DNA test meant there was no conclusive way to prove that the hair had belonged to the victim as the particular DNA strand would be present in any of her children.

The defence had also questioned the prosecution over the chain of custody of the DNA evidence which had not presented to the court.

The judge had concluded proceedings by giving the prosecution five days to present the last witness saying that he wished to end the trial before the end of the month.

Both Aalif Rauf and Nooraddeen have been previously apprehended on suspicions of links to the case. However they were released back then, when summoned to court for remand extension.