18 Asylum Seekers Accused in German Sex Attacks

Police chief in Cologne is fired
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2016 12:04 PM CST
18 Asylum Seekers Accused in German Sex Attacks
Police officers patrol in front of the main station of Cologne, Germany, on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016.   (AP Photo/Hermann J. Knippertz)

Eighteen of 31 suspects identified in the New Year’s Eve assaults on women in Cologne, Germany, are asylum seekers, authorities revealed Friday, the same day the city's police chief was removed from his post, per CNN. Some 170 criminal complaints have been filed in Cologne, including at least two alleging rape, per the BBC. Authorities say that a group of men, including asylum seekers, arranged to meet at a railway station ahead of the attack, reports the New York Times. In further evidence of a coordinated attack, more than 50 similar incidents have been reported in Hamburg. Six women in Zurich, Switzerland, say they were also "robbed" and "groped" by men on New Year's Eve, while police in Helsinki, Finland, are investigating New Year's Eve harassment involving "a gathering of asylum seekers."

German officials have faced intense backlash, not only in regard to the country's admission of 800,000 migrants last year. "We ran to the police. But we saw the police were so understaffed," one victim said. "They couldn't take care of us and we as women suffered the price." Along with two Germans and a US citizen, the Cologne suspects include nine people from Algeria, eight from Morocco, five Iranians, four Syrians, an Iraqi, and a Serb. Two had footage of the attack on their phones, while one was carrying Arabic-German translations for phrases like "nice breasts" and "I'll kill you." Germany's justice minister notes convictions could bring deportations as "the law allows for people to be deported during asylum proceedings if they're sentenced to a year or more in prison." A rep for Angela Merkel, however, says "this is a matter not of refugees, but above all of criminality." (More Cologne stories.)

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