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Turkey stab suspect's age 'unclear'

Uncertainty over the exact age of the chief suspect in the murder of two Northern Ireland women in Turkey could have major implications on a potential punishment, it has emerged.

It is understood prosecutors are not convinced Recep Cetin is 17, as first thought.

If he is 18 or older it would mean he would be treated as an adult, not a juvenile, if he was charged with killing Co Down women Elizabeth Graham and Kathy Dinsmore.

The waiter, who was the boyfriend of Ms Graham's 15-year-old daughter Shannon and known to the family as Alex, could then potentially face a much stiffer sentence if found guilty.

The two friends, both aged 53 from Newry, were found murdered in woods 75 miles north of the holiday resort of Kusadasi.

Prayers for the victims were said in churches in the Turkish region and in Northern Ireland on Sunday.

Sources have said the killings happened after Ms Graham refused the waiter's proposal to marry her daughter. The two women suffered multiple stab wounds, including having their throats cut, and their bodies were discovered in a forest near a graveyard to the east of the port city of Izmir.

While no formal charges have yet been brought against Cetin, police sources claim he has already confessed to the murders. It is believed he admitted to the brutal killings under interrogation, after first concocting a story the women had been kidnapped.

But the process of establishing his age could hamper future court proceedings and in parts of Turkey it is apparently not uncommon for births to be officially registered a number of months, sometimes years, after the actual birthday.

A source close to the investigation said police will have access to details on his age, but no official police statement has been made.

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