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Monday, July 25, 2005

Perfect Murder?

Commentary by Editor Anne Campbell:
--------------- * Law & Order At Sea

Could this be a perfect murder? We'll need the combined expertise of detectives, forensics and legal minds from TV’s ‘Law & Order’ and its three spin-offs to solve this one: On July 5, George Smith, honeymooning on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas, disappeared as the ship sailed between Greece and Turkey. Screams were reported by the passengers in a cabin beneath the Smiths’ around 3 a.m. The next morning, at about 7 a.m. on July 5, a passenger standing on a balcony spotted what looked like blood on a white metal awning that hangs over the ship's lifeboats and alerted cruise officials. A search of the cabins near that section revealed Smith was the only passenger missing. When the ship docked in Kusadasi, Turkey, Smith's wife was questioned and allowed to return home.

It was five days before a Royal Caribbean attorney visited the ship to ask questions about the incident. Turkish police officials had the blood as forensic evidence and offered to take over the case if Smith's family sent their own DNA as a match. They refused, so Turkey turned the case back to Royal Caribbean. According to a RCI spokesperson, the cruise line then handed the case over to the FBI.

Huh? Ok, now I'm confused, so I turned to CruiseMates' Jim Bragg, a retired police officer. "You do not need a body in order to convict anyone of murder. You must have the 'body of the crime,' which is just the high likelihood of the crime being committed and not the actual physical human remains," he said.

But it gets even more complicated than that. Smith apparently disappeared in international waters, so neither Greece nor Turkey has official jurisdiction. In the end, the only country with any jurisdiction over the murder is the Bahamas -- Brilliance of the Seas is a Bahamian-flagged vessel, so the incident – whatever it may have been – technically took place on Bahamian soil. The FBI? The US is out of the loop entirely in this crime – if there was a crime...