Published On: Wed, Jan 6th, 2016

New Year’s criminal, sex assaults stoke German migrant debate


German Chancellor Angela Merkel

 

German leaders expressed shock over some 90 criminal complaints and sexual assaults against women including one allegation of rape on New Year’s Eve in the western city of Cologne. AP reported.

Witnesses described the assaults as coming from groups of 20-30 young men whose appearance indicated they were of “Arab”. They had surrounded victims, assaulted them and in several cases robbed them.Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers warned against anti-migrant scapegoating, said Ap reporter.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a thorough investigation of the “repugnant” attacks, allegedly committed in a large crowd of revellers during year-end festivities outside the city’s main train station.

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said she had called Cologne’s mayor, Henriette Reker, to express her “outrage” over the violence, which she said required “a tough response from the state”.

“Everything must be done to find as many of the perpetrators as possible as quickly as possible and bring them to justice, regardless of their origin or background, ” Seibert quoted Merkel as saying.

Police in Cologne said they had received 90 criminal complaints by Tuesday and quoted witnesses as saying that groups of 20-30 young men “who appeared to be of Arab or North African origin” had surrounded victims, assaulted them and in several cases robbed them.

Germany took in around one million asylum seekers in 2015, many of them fleeing war-ravaged Syria.

On Tuesday evening 200-300 people, according to police estimates, gathered in front of Cologne cathedral calling for more respect for women.
Albers said security cameras and better lighting would be installed for the February 4-10 event, including around the main rail station.

Merkel in her televised New Year’s address called on Germans to continue to welcome refugees despite mounting criticism and to reject far-right ideologues whipping up anti-migrant sentiment.

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