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NEW YEAR'S EVE SEXUAL ASSAULTS

CRIME

Cologne sex attackers risk deportation – Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday said she backed legal changes to make it easier to deport migrants who commit crimes, after authorities said many accused of shocking New Year mob violence were asylum seekers.

Cologne sex attackers risk deportation - Merkel

Under current laws, asylum seekers are only forcibly sent back if they have been sentenced to jail terms of at least three years, and if their lives are not at risk in their countries of origin.

However, on Saturday, Merkel backed a sharp toughening of expulsion rules for convicted refugees, saying that even those who have been given suspended sentences should also be required to leave Germany.

“If a refugee flouts the rules, then there must be consequences; that means that they can lose their residence right here regardless of whether they have a suspended sentence or a prison sentence,” she said.

After dozens of women in Cologne were sexually assaulted on New Year's Eve by a crowd of men — described by witnesses as mostly of Arab and North African appearance — Merkel said it was time to ask, “When do you lose your right to stay with us?”

“We should ask ourselves whether it might be necessary to take this away earlier (than is currently the case), and I have to say that for me, we must take it away sooner,” the chancellor said.

“We must do this for us, and for the many refugees who were not present during the events in Cologne,” she told a meeting of party officials in the southwestern city of Mainz.

Merkel had already called for a discussion on whether to toughen the deportation policy, but this is the first time she has explicitly backed a change in the law.

In revelations that have shocked Germans and claimed the scalp of Cologne's police chief, women seeing in the New Year had to run a gauntlet of groping, lewd insults and thefts in an aggressive and drunken crush of around 1,000 men.

By Friday, Cologne police had received over 200 criminal complaints, mostly over sexual offences from groping to two alleged rapes, Spiegel Online reported.

Officials from Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats party, meeting in Mainz this weekend, are set to propose that migrants jailed for any length of time in Germany should face deportation.

GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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