Sunday, January 10, 2016

New Year's rape and crime attacks top 500 in Cologne

Police control a protester against the New Year's Eve sex attacks in Cologne on Saturday (09 January 2016)

The number of criminal acts committed during new year celebrations in the German city of Cologne has risen to 516 - 40% of which relate to sexual assault, police in the city say. The figures are a big increase from the 379 cases police reported on Saturday.
Asylum seekers and illegal migrants from North Africa comprise the majority of suspects, police say.
The crime spree led to criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door immigration policy. That has resulted in 1.1 million asylum seekers going to Germany throughout 2015.

Anti-immigration protesters in Cologne on Saturday (09 January 2016)
Anti-migrants protesters took to the streets of Cologne on Saturday

The new figures came as German authorities were urged to find out whether the series of New Year's Eve sexual assaults and robberies in Cologne were linked to similar crimes in other cities. Justice Minister Heiko Maas told the Bild newspaper on Sunday that he was convinced the attacks were pre-arranged.
"If such a horde gathers in order to commit crimes, that appears in some form to be planned,'' he said. "Nobody can tell me that this was not co-ordinated or prepared."
Authorities and witnesses say the attackers were among about 1,000 people, almost 100% men, who congregated at Cologne's central train station before breaking off into small groups that sexually molested, raped and robbed women.
Police investigating the attacks say they are concentrating their inquiries mainly on suspects of North African origin who seemed to be in the majority.
Riot police on Saturday used water cannon to disperse anti-migrant protesters as Mrs Merkel proposed changes to make it easier to deport asylum-seekers who commit crimes.
The police's handling of the events has been sharply criticized for too little action while women were being raped.

Angela Merkel
Ms Merkel's "open door" policy had already attracted criticism from within her party before the Cologne attacks

Victims described chaos as dozens of sexual assaults and robberies were carried out with little apparent response from the authorities around Cologne station.
Similar attacks to those seen in Cologne were also reported in Hamburg and in Stuttgart on New Year's Eve. In Bielefeld, hundreds of men tried to force their way into nightclubs. Police said several women had been sexually assaulted.
On Friday, the chief of police for North Rhine-Westphalia was suspended. Wolfgang Albers had been accused of holding back information about the Cologne attacks, in particular about the origin of the suspects. These incidents may change a lot of attitudes in Europe about accepting immigrants and people seeking asylum. Germany has accepted more than a million people seeking sanctuary in 2015. Good will and compassion are so hard to come by in the 21st century. It's very sad that generosity and welcome, so eagerly accepted, was rewarded in this way.

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