The German city is reeling from news of a series of apparently co-ordinated sexual assaults on local women, allegedly committed by large groups of “Arab-looking men”.
Various reports give startling accounts of dozens of offenders surrounding victims, robbing them and in many cases sexually violating them. At least one rape has been reported.
The mass crime is alleged to have occurred on New Year’s Eve as thousands of people were drawn to year-end festivities outside the western German city’s main train station and its famous Gothic cathedral. Police were clearing the area after fireworks were thrown into the crowd — and it is while that operation was being carried out the assaults took place.
The issue has been complicated by claims the police covered up the assaults, to stop a hysterical public blaming refugees. They initially didn’t give details of the incidents to media, or a description of the suspects.
That — and the failure of police to prevent the attacks — has increased pressure on the state government, and Chancellor Angela Merkel who welcomed a million migrants into the country last year, many of them from war-torn Syria.
A policeman who was outside Cologne station during the New Year’s Eve trouble told the city’s Express news website that he had detained eight suspects. “They were all asylum seekers, carrying copies of their residence certificates,” he said
Some estimates are that 1000 men were involved drunk and aggressive men were involved.
Police said they had received 90 criminal complaints by yesterday, including a plainclothes policewoman was reportedly among those attacked. “We assume more people will come forward,” police chief Wolfgang Albers told reporters.
Katja L., 28, said she was with three friends outside the station when they encountered a group of “foreign-looking men”.
“Suddenly I felt a hand on my bottom, then on my breasts, then I was groped everywhere,” she told Cologne tabloid Express.
“It was horrible. Although we screamed and flailed about, the guys didn’t stop. I was beside myself and think that I was touched about 100 times across around 200 metres (yards).” A woman in her 30s interviewed on rolling news channel N24 said she was groped by a group of “Arab-looking men”.
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