German authorities are frantically trying to determine the age of an Afghan asylum seeker on trial for rape and murder.

Hussein Khavari claims to be 17, which means he could serve a maximum of ten years for the sexual assault and killing of aid worker Maria Ladenburger if found guilty.

But if authorities can prove Khavari is, as they suspect, 18 or over, he could face a life sentence. He allegedly had already told Greek authorities he was 17 back in 2013.

Using biological indicators to determine someone’s age became a hot topic last year, when many suspected adult migrants arriving in Britain were claiming to be minors to receive favourable treatment.

In that case the Home Office refused to carry out dental tests to determine asylum-seekers’ ages, which it called "intrusive", angering many Brits and some MPs.

But in this more serious matter the German authorities are using X-rays of Khavari’s clavicle and tarsal bones in a detailed study that will take four weeks to complete.

Forensic medical experts at the University of Freiburg are said to be at a crucial stage of their work.

Khavari was arrested at the beginning of December and has been in prison since. He remains silent on all charges, and did not allow himself to be questioned by forensic medical experts.

DNA traces from Khavari were found at the crime scene, say police.

Maria Ladenburger was a 19-year-old medical student who worked as a volunteer in her spare time to help asylum seekers in the south-western German university city of Freiburg.

According to the German authorities, Khavari came to Germany as an unaccompanied minor in November 2015.

Allegedly, Khavari had already claimed to be 17 on his arrival in Greece in 2013 in Greece.

Yet German authorities were unaware of this, as well as that he had already been sentenced to ten years in prison in Greece after he threw a 20-year-old student 25 feet down a cliff on the island of Corfu in May 2013. The woman was severely injured but miraculously survived the ordeal.

It is reported that Khavari did not report to parole officers after his early release from the Greek detention centre and authorities issued a search warrant for the Afghan migrant, but only in their own country.

German authorities have slammed the Greeks for "negligence" claiming that if they had known about his past, he would have been flagged up when he applied for asylum and he would not have been allowed into the country, which in turn could have prevented the grisly rape and murder he allegedly committed.

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Murdered student Maria Ladenburger
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Author: Koen Berghuis

Koen Berghuis is ViralTab's roving correspondent and editor of the Benelux & German desk.