The identification of decedents has always been a central issue in forensic pathology, for ethical, criminal, and administrative reasons, but today, it needs more attention due to issues related not only to migration but also to the weakening of family ties. This article presents a descriptive study discussing the Italian regulatory situation developed in the last decade to face the many identification issues, with all its improvements and flaws. Hence, data gathered in 25 years of at the Institute of Legal Medicine of Milan and the epidemiology of unidentified decedents are illustrated. Briefly, from 1995 to 2019, the number of unidentified human remains with no identity or requesting verification of identity amounts to 726, i.e., 3% circa of all autopsies performed at the Institute, with an average of 29 individuals per year. In total, 528 (72.7%) individuals were successfully identified, 100 (13.8%) remained without an identity, and 98 (13.5%) individuals remained with suspected yet unconfirmed identities. Percentages for each identification technique are displayed, with insight into the role of forensic anthropology and odontology compared to genetics, and into the misuse of non-scientific methods allowed by Public Prosecutors. All the data is compared, as much as possible, with the very few recent studies concerning the problem worldwide. Finally, the article aims to show the Italian experience in dealing with unidentified bodies, in order to provide food for thought for other countries toward a discussion regarding a global issue which is sometimes taken for granted and underestimated.

Twenty-five years of unidentified bodies: an account from Milano, Italy / D. Mazzarelli, L. Milotta, L. Franceschetti, L. Maggioni, V.G. Merelli, P. Poppa, D. Porta, D. De Angelis, C. Cattaneo. - In: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LEGAL MEDICINE. - ISSN 0937-9827. - 135:5(2021), pp. 1983-1991. [10.1007/s00414-021-02560-9]

Twenty-five years of unidentified bodies: an account from Milano, Italy

D. Mazzarelli;L. Milotta;L. Franceschetti
;
V.G. Merelli;P. Poppa;D. De Angelis;C. Cattaneo
2021

Abstract

The identification of decedents has always been a central issue in forensic pathology, for ethical, criminal, and administrative reasons, but today, it needs more attention due to issues related not only to migration but also to the weakening of family ties. This article presents a descriptive study discussing the Italian regulatory situation developed in the last decade to face the many identification issues, with all its improvements and flaws. Hence, data gathered in 25 years of at the Institute of Legal Medicine of Milan and the epidemiology of unidentified decedents are illustrated. Briefly, from 1995 to 2019, the number of unidentified human remains with no identity or requesting verification of identity amounts to 726, i.e., 3% circa of all autopsies performed at the Institute, with an average of 29 individuals per year. In total, 528 (72.7%) individuals were successfully identified, 100 (13.8%) remained without an identity, and 98 (13.5%) individuals remained with suspected yet unconfirmed identities. Percentages for each identification technique are displayed, with insight into the role of forensic anthropology and odontology compared to genetics, and into the misuse of non-scientific methods allowed by Public Prosecutors. All the data is compared, as much as possible, with the very few recent studies concerning the problem worldwide. Finally, the article aims to show the Italian experience in dealing with unidentified bodies, in order to provide food for thought for other countries toward a discussion regarding a global issue which is sometimes taken for granted and underestimated.
Forensic anthropology; Forensic genetics; Forensic pathology; Human identification; Missing person
Settore MED/43 - Medicina Legale
2021
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/959063
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