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a poisoning case and forensic toxicology

Historical Forensic Case Shows Importance of Toxicological Analysis

An investigation of forensic reports from a famous case of poisoning which occurred in Portugal in the late 19th century demonstrates how critical toxicology is to the field

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In a review article recently published in the Forensic Sciences Research journal,  author Ricardo Jorge Dinis-Oliveira of the University Institute of Health Sciences (IUCS)-CESPU, Gandra, Portugal continues a three-part investigation of the "Crime of Flores Street" one of the most famous cases of poisoning which occurred in Portugal in the late 19th century. 

The case demonstrated the weaknesses of the Portuguese medicolegal system and attests to the importance of toxicological analysis. The first article retold the case which gave birth to forensic toxicology studies in Portugal and informed present day Portuguese medicolegal procedures. The second article analyzed all the relevant and contradictory testimonial evidence of the prosecution and defense witnesses.

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Related Article: Pushing the Limits of Forensic Toxicology

In this latest publication, the author analyzes the forensic evidence, particularly from the autopsy, toxicological, and psychiatric forensic reports. Today, it would be easy to perform irrefutable toxicological analysis, but in those times, the circumstantially produced evidence, together with the toxicological expert reports, allowed the court to produce a damning judgment. The author suggests, that with current knowledge, it is now possible to add further insights if the burial location of at least one victim could be identified. 

In late 2020, one of the victims was finally located. Permission for a new autopsy for samples collection was obtained and has been performed more than 130 years after the first major autopsy was executed in Portugal. Future research will include correlation of the identity of the victim by DNA analysis and comparison with relatives and toxicological analyses.

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