Child bride 'is pregnant and will stay in Turkey'

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The Independent Online
Two private Turkish television stations last night reported that the 13-year-old Essex schoolgirl Sarah Cook, who had "married" a Turkish waiter, was already pregnant and had decided not to return to England for the time being.

Both the ATV and Kanal D television stations gave no source for their reports, which were broadcast from Istanbul, but the normally reliable ATV said that a six-week-old pregnancy was discovered when Sarah was having a hospital test in the south-eastern town of Kahramanmaras.

ATV said the hospital test was on her bone structure to see if her physical development matched the birth date given on her passport of 2 September, 1982.

In Turkish law such a test might be considered evidence that Sarah was in fact already 14-years-old, in which case she could legally marry if she had her parents' consent and the approval of a judge.

However, such tests on the bone structure are normally not enough to overturn the evidence of a hospital birth certificate.

Sarah "married" her 18-year-old sweetheart, Musa Komeagac, in a Muslim ceremony a month ago - a ceremony that has no legal status in Turkey. Both Sarah and Musa had previously said that she was not pregnant and not likely to be so. He is currently in jail on charges of statutory rape.

Jackie Cook, Sarah's 37-year-old mother, has been trying to persuade her daughter to return to Britain where she has been made a ward of court, but Sarah has been reluctant to go for fear that this might prejudice a first hearing against Musa on 15 February.

Sarah reportedly told a television station on Sunday that she would accompany her mother back to Britain, but ATV said that the pregnancy meant she would not go back for the time being.

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