• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Cologne attacks 'not organized': police chief
Police patrolling outside Cologne Cathedral on Rosenmontag, the high point of carnival, this week. Photo: DPA

Cologne attacks 'not organized': police chief

DPA/The Local · 12 Feb 2016, 09:13

Published: 12 Feb 2016 09:13 GMT+01:00

"There is no evidence that we are dealing with structures of organized crime here," Mathies said.

"We believe this was transmitted through social networks. A few people did in fact say, 'hey, we're going to Cologne, there's going to be a big party."

Mathies did acknowledge that many of the alleged perpetrators were from countries where they might be familiar with "this behaviour, where women are hemmed in and then abused by a large number of men at once."

"I must say that this phenomenon was not known to me in Germany before," he said.

A particular challenge for the police has been the lack of quality video surveillance in the Cologne main train station, where many of the attacks happened.

"It's easier to look at a video and see: that guy's just taken a phone. Rather than: he's just touched a woman. These images are far from good. I believe that this must change a lot in the future," Mathies said.

Police had already introduced extended video surveillance during this week's carnival, the police chief added.

And he addressed directly the accusations that police had covered up details of the extent of the sexual assaults and the origins of those behind them – although critics will likely remain dissatisfied.

Cologne's new police chief Jürgen Mathies. Photo: DPA

"There is a concern that by naming the nationality, you contribute to the fact that at the moment everything is being lumped together," Mathies said. "That hurts me. As a policeman, it's my job to protect people."

"If the nationality is indispensable to understanding the crime, then [it should be named]," he continued. "But not in general."

It was increasingly difficult for police not to name the nationalities of suspects to the media in the wake of the sexual assaults, Mathies added.

From the bottom to the top

Mathies is a former beat officer with experience going back to his time on a motorbike patrol in Cologne in the 1970s.

Story continues below…

The former leader of the national security plan for the 2006 football World Cup, he's returned to the cathedral city after holding senior positions in the North Rhine-Westphalia state police organization.

But he entered office under a cloud, following the departure of his predecessor Wolfgang Albers over accusations that he played down the large numbers of sexual assaults against women around Cologne main train station on New Year's Eve.

More than 1,000 crime reports about that one night had landed on police desks by the end of January, including 433 sexual assaults.

State prosecutors in Cologne are investigating 44 men, largely of north African origin, with 10 of them in investigative custody.

SEE ALSO: Big rise in sex offence reports at Cologne Karneval

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Chancellor Angela Merkel showing up French President François Hollande in a neighbourly battle of table manners. Photo: DPA.

Despite what stereotypes might have you believe, Germans aren't that different from the rest of us when it comes to social interactions. But these tips should at least help guide you through the minor quirks that come with your next dinner invitation.

Thugs' ‘dream cop’ in court for not investigating 100 cases
Fans at a VfL Bochum match set off flares. Photo: DPA

For three years a police officer in western Germany simply ignored many of the cases he was supposed to investigate. His trial started on Tuesday in Bochum.

Police arrest suspect in murder of Chinese student
Police secure the crime scene where Yanjie Lie's body was found on May 13th. Photo: DPA

Police have made an arrest in the case of a Chinese student murdered while she was out jogging a week ago, media reported on Tuesday.

Berlin thief shows heart in surprising act of kindness
Photo: DPA

Pickpockets are an ever more common phenomenon in the German capital. But sometimes they can surprise you.

Bayer's Monsanto bid
Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
An anti-Monsanto activist at a protest in Brandenburg in 2014. Photo: DPA

A proposed tie-up between Bayer and Monsanto has inflamed opinion in Germany where most people oppose genetically modified foods.

Why Greece is top of Germany's to-do list - again
Unemployed Greek workers with symbolically chained hands march on May 1st in Athens. Photo: DPA

Greece has been in the headlines more often this year for its front-line role in the refugee crisis than its finances – so just why is it top of Germany's agenda again all of a sudden?

Far-right AfD turns on itself over failed Muslim meeting
Jörg Meuthen. Photo: DPA

The co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany party has criticized his party colleagues after talks with Muslim leaders collapsed after just an hour on Monday.

Here's why Munich is worth 20 times more than Berlin
BMW's headquarters in Munich. Photo: DPA

The Bavarian capital leaves other German cities in the dust when it comes to where the highest-valued companies choose to plant their flag.

Bavaria tries to coax migrants into police force
Joachim Herrmann (cr) with police recruits in Nuremberg. Photo: DPA

Bavaria’s interior ministry has started a campaign to encourage more migrants to join up as officers of the law - whether they have a German passport or not.

Extremist violence 'exploded' in record year for refugees
Left-wing violence at the Blockupy protest in Frankfurt in March 2015. Photo: DPA.

It is now official: 2015 smashed all records for political violence, as the far right attacked refugee homes and the far left responded by attacking them in turn, Interior Ministry figures show.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Technology
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Technology
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Society
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Sport
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
Culture
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
Business & Money
Surprise results give Germany strongest growth in two years
Technology
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Politics
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
Munich
The bloody knife attack that shocked a Bavarian town
National
Supermarkets must pay massive fine for fixing beer prices
Sport
Lufthansa's Euro 2016 ad takes aim at England
Culture
The 6 German words you need to know for spring
Culture
6 weird and wonderful ways Germans celebrate May 1st
Gallery
Feast your eyes on Germany in springtime bloom
National
4/20: Five things to know about weed in Germany
Berlin
Police break up hipster swarm at vegan restaurant opening
Politics
Merkel allows Erdogan case against German satirist to go ahead
Travel
7 of Germany's most jaw-dropping national parks
Hamburg
Gay penguins move to Hamburg to settle down
Business & Money
See-through €5 coin has collectors lining up
Health
Vegan hemp powder recalled over fear toddlers getting high
7,734
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd