Morphology of experimental assault rifle skin wounds
- Cite this article as:
- Rainio, J., Lalu, K., Ranta, H. et al. Int J Legal Med (2003) 117: 19. doi:10.1007/s00414-002-0308-9
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Finnish forensic experts who had performed investigations of victims of alleged political violence in Kosovo, in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, under the mandate of the European Union, carried out experimental shooting in Finland to confirm observations made during the earlier forensic investigation. Experimental shooting can be of benefit for autopsy conclusions, because the wounding potential of military weapons differs from that of non-military weapons. Assault rifle gunshot wounds were inflicted upon anaesthetised swine from various distances and angles and with variable shielding of the skin. The morphology of the skin wounds was studied and post-mortem changes were documented while the wounds were being observed in cool and room temperature conditions for 13 days. Large variation was found in the size, form, and regularity, and in the presence and width of the abrasion zone of entrance and exit wounds, in addition to secondary wounds. The maximum diameter of entrance wounds varied between 4 and 40 mm and that of exit wounds between 10 and 110 mm. The width of the abrasion zone surrounding entrance wounds ranged from 2 to 11 mm. Extreme care and caution are needed when drawing conclusions with regard to cases of multiple gunshot injuries, and especially when post-mortem changes are considerable.