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From Croatia to the world: Ivan Vučetić and the advancement of dactyloscopy

"Celebrating 70 Years of Excellence: The Ivan Vučetić Forensic Science Centre

Celebrating 70 Years of Excellence: The Ivan Vučetić Forensic Science Centre (Photo: Public domain)

ZAGREB, 20 June (Hina/CW) – The Ivan Vučetić Forensic Science Centre marked the 70th anniversary of its establishment at a ceremony at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb on Monday.

The Ivan Vučetić Centre has more than 130 staff and handles 17,000 cases annually. It became a member of the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes in 1998, and in recent years it established closer ties with the forensic community in the world.

Currently, three of its staff are associated members of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and the head of the Ivan Vučetić Centre, Andreja Ledić, is a full member.

“We have to move with the times and be proactive,” Ledić said while speaking of the cooperation with other forensic centres. As for technological advancement, she pointed out that one of the conditions was the use of artificial intelligence in the day-to-day operation of the Centre.

The Croatian forensic science centre is named after Ivan Vučetić (Juan Vucetich), a Croatian-born Argentine criminologist credited as the inventor of dactyloscopy. Vucetich was born on the Croatian island of Hvar and immigrated to Argentina in 1882. 

Ivan Vučetić Forensic Science Centre

Juan Vucetich (Photo:_ Public domain)

In 1891, Ivan Vučetić embarked on a groundbreaking venture by implementing Francis Galton’s fingerprinting concepts, which he greatly expanded upon. He assumed the role of director at the Center for Dactyloscopy in Buenos Aires, where he introduced the Bertillon system in conjunction with the fingerprint records.

A pivotal moment occurred in 1892 when the first successful identification of a criminal took place. Francisca Rojas, who had murdered her two children and attempted to deceive authorities by blaming an external assailant, was exposed as the perpetrator through a bloody fingerprint left at the scene. This marked a turning point as Argentine police embraced Vučetić’s fingerprinting classification method, leading to its adoption by law enforcement agencies worldwide. Vučetić continued to refine his technique, incorporating new materials and advancements, eventually publishing his influential work titled “Comparative Dactyloscopy” in 1904. 

The Escuela de Policia Juan Vucetich, located near La Plata, pays tribute to the esteemed legacy of Ivan Vučetić by bearing his name

Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said that Ivan Vučetić made an outstanding contribution to the forensic community and that the Ivan Vučetić Centre has successfully continued his legacy, promoting advancement in forensic science.

Speaking of the importance of forensic activity, Božinović said that based on decisions by the Council of the European Union on deepening cross-border cooperation, notably combating terrorism and cross-border crime, Croatia exchanges DNA data with 24 EU member states and the United Kingdom.

Ivan Vučetić Forensic Science Centre

(Image: Ivan Vučetić Forensic Science Centre)

He noted that the Ivan Vučetić Centre had played an important role in the cancellation of visa requirements for Croatian nationals travelling to the United States.

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