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British Columbia Premier David Eby says he supports police who secretly collected DNA from members of the Kurdish community to solve the murder of a 13-year-old girl, saying he “really struggles” with the idea that they should not have done so.

Eby says the victim’s rights were “profoundly and unalterably violated” by her killer, and police actions made the community safe from a predator.

His remarks come after The Canadian Press revealed that police posed as tea marketers to collect DNA from about 150 Kurdish community members without their permission at a 2018 festival.

The operation ultimately led to the arrest of Ibrahim Ali, who was convicted last month of first-degree murder for the 2017 killing of the girl, who can’t be named because of a publication ban.

Police had previously determined that whoever left the DNA on the victim’s body was likely of Kurdish ethnicity, leading to the targeting of the festival where a brother of Ali unwittingly provided a sample that gave police their breakthrough.

Eby told an unrelated news conference on Monday that many British Columbians “recoiled in horror” at the murder in Burnaby that “shattered” parents’ sense of safety in the province.

“The police went out, identified the suspect, arrested him and he was successfully prosecuted,” said Eby.

“To now, after the trial is complete, after these issues have all been considered, to be going back to say to the police (that) they should not have done what they did? I really struggle with that analysis,” he said.

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