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T-cells (Cancer Institute); The Afghan suspect (Facebook)

Father of murdered German teenager says migrant was not a minor

The father of the German teenage girl murdered in the town of Kandel, has expressed his doubts about the statements of the offender about his age.

Published: January 2, 2018, 9:21 am

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    “He has never been and will never be 15 years old,” the father told the Bild newspaper. “We hope that through the legal process now we will learn his true age.”

    A German court dealing primarily with the age of a supposedly “minor refugee”, would be nothing new. The murder trial in Freiburg against Hussein K. has been pondering this question for months. Finally, the father of the defendant told the court that his son was 32 years old at the time of the crime – and not 17, as Hussein K. had stated.

    Medical professionals in Rotterdam meanwhile have achieved astonishingly accurate forecasts in the university hospital. On the basis of DNA only have they have determined a person’s age.

    For a long time, forensic medicine has been able to draw conclusions about the course of an act of violence from tiny traces on the scene, such as skin, blood or bone splinters. It is also possible to create a genetic fingerprint from microscopic body remnants. Now physicians at the University Hospital in Rotterdam have shown that one can predict with astonishing accuracy age from a human’s DNA.

    Dutch physicians had discovered by 1990 already that the so-called T cell receptor (TCR) on the surface of a particular group of white blood cells, the T lymphocytes, is structured somewhat differently in almost every cell.

    This opens up to the immune system an almost unlimited variety of ways to recognize and eliminate foreign molecules. In order for each T-lymphocyte to have its own characteristic “antenna”, the DNA segments that encode the T-cell receptor must be permanently remixed.

    However, the number of these so-called TCR excision circles decreases with increasing age. This is due to the continuous regression of the thymus gland, in which the T-lymphocytes mature.

    In fact, an analysis of 195 healthy individuals, ranging from a few weeks to 80 years, found that the TCR excision circles were present in very different concentrations in the T-lymphocytes: their numbers were highest in babies and steadily decreased eight decades down the line. With a mathematical formula, the particular age was predicted quite accurately.

    The variability in the prediction is explained by the fact that the number of TCR excision circles indicates the biological age of the person concerned.

    But the German media has been circulating stories in which it is stated that it was medically impossible to gauge someone’s correct age.

    Homicides among young people are extremely rare according to experts. “Fatal relationship issues are more of an adult issue,” said the chairman of the German Association for Juvenile Courts and Juvenile Courts, Theresia Höynck, told German daily FAZ.

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