• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
New Year's Eve sexual assaults
Cologne police face fresh NYE cover-up claims
The scene outside Cologne cathedral on New Year's Eve. Photo: DPA

Cologne police face fresh NYE cover-up claims

AFP/DPA/The Local · 8 Jan 2016, 08:43

Published: 08 Jan 2016 08:43 GMT+01:00

Die Welt reported interviews with several police officers involved in the action around Cologne's main train station on New Year's Eve, where a large crowd of men, reportedly of Arab or north African appearance, gathered to drink and set off fireworks, with some harassing women.

Officers told Die Welt that large numbers of people had had their identities checked, with some taken into temporary custody.

"Among the identity checks that were carried out, the majority of people were only able to produce evidence of registration as an asylum seeker from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees [BAMF]," a police report dated January 2nd, seen by Die Welt, recorded.

That directly contradicts statements by Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers in a press conference on Tuesday, when he said that police had little or no information about the background of the attackers.

Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers is under pressure over information officers say was kept out of official reports. Photo: DPA

In its Friday edition, the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger (KSTA) local newspaper alleged that police leaders had deliberately kept the identity of those behind the sexual assaults a secret – something the commander on the ground on New Year's Eve resisted strongly.

"It's no longer a question of 'if' but only of 'when' Albers will be forced to step down," tabloid Bild argued on Friday.

DON'T MISS: Silence on sex crimes will make racism worse

Merkel: 'fundamental' debate needed

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday Germany must have a "fundamental" debate about how to integrate newcomers, as police identified 16 people suspected of a shocking rash of sexual assaults blamed on migrants.

As outrage grew over the assaults, which included two alleged rapes and several accounts of groping during New Year's Eve festivities in Cologne,

Merkel said citizens were right to raise serious questions.

She pledged strong action and stressed that "we must also speak again about the cultural fundamentals of our co-existence".

Welcoming the fact that large numbers of alleged victims have come forward, Merkel said there were "very serious questions that go beyond Cologne" for Germany.

The attacks have shown that there is in "some quarters, contempt for women," she said.

"We need to confront that with utmost determination," Merkel said, adding that she did not believe that the cases were isolated.

Politicians call for toughness

Across the political spectrum, politicians tried to latch onto growing public disquiet by proposing tougher police action and new laws dealing with sexual harassment.

"We must do everything so that such events never happen again," Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

A draft policy paper from Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suggested that police be allowed to stop and search people without suspicion in times of "serious danger for public security and order".

Meanwhile, the draft calls for asylum seekers and refugees to lose their right to asylum if they are convicted of a crime.

Story continues below…

"All the possibilities of international law" must be examined "to send criminal asylum seekers back home," Vice-Chancellor and leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) Sigmar Gabriel told Bild.

"Why should German taxpayers pay for foreign criminals' jail time?" he asked, arguing that the threat of imprisonment in countries of origin would be a greater deterrent than spending time in a German prison.

But the Green Party pointed out that in their rush to toughen laws for asylum seekers, leaders were forgetting that these were sexually-motivated crimes against women.

"A large part of the current anger is not against sexualized violence, but about the fact that the possible perpetrators looked north African and Arabic," Green Party politician Claudia Roth said.

As well as increased police presence in risky areas and tough punishment for the criminals, she called for improved counselling for victims of sexual assault.

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

AFP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
Germany sees 'turning point' in birth rate decline
Children at a a kindergarten in Swabia. Photo: Nikolaus Lenau/Flickr

Is Germany's three-decade decline in birth rate now over?

Trump protesters rebuild and tear down 'Berlin Wall'
The 'Stop Trump' protest at the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: DPA.

US expats gathered at the Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate on Friday "rebuild" the Berlin Wall and protest US presidential candidate Donald Trump's own proposed wall-building.

Accusation of sexism within Merkel's party creates uproar
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Chancellor Angela Merkel, two leading women in the CDU party. Photo: DPA.

A young politician from the ranks of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has caused a storm by suggesting that the party is institutionally sexist.

EasyJet 'in talks to buy German airline' to duck Brexit
Photo: DPA

EasyJet is in talks to acquire TUIfly, a board member of the German carrier said Friday, as the British no-frills airline looks for ways to keep flying freely within the EU after Britain quits the bloc.

Symbols of migrant plight to go on show in Bonn museum
Photo: DPA

A people smugglers' car, a dinghy and a life jacket are among items related to Europe's migration crisis due to go on display at a German museum.

Brexit
Green party demand 'quick and easy' citizenship for Brits
Photo: DPA

The Green party has called for Brits living in Germany to be offered a painless path to obtaining dual citizenship as to "reassure them over the future".

Berlin the new London? 10m2 flat to rent for €750 a month
Photo: Immonet.de.

This shoebox apartment in the gentrified Bergmann-Kiez neighbourhood may be a sign that the tides are turning for Berlin’s comparatively cheap housing market.

Far-right AfD reach record high in national poll
AfD leader Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) was backed by 16 percent of respondents in a new poll, which was a new high for the upstart populist party.

Bautzen youth beat up pensioner in racist attack
Photo: DPA

In the Saxon town of Bautzen, which has become a byword for racism and anti-migrant sentiment, two youths have attacked a 72-year-old man, shouting 'foreigners out'.

German lawmakers ratify landmark Paris climate accord
The German parliament (Bundestag). Photo: DPA.

Germany's lower of house of parliament on Thursday ratified the Paris agreement on climate change, following in the footsteps of 60 other countries that have committed to the landmark agreement designed to stem the planet's rising temperatures.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
5,682
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd