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Reports of three refugees in Cologne attacks 'wrong'

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Reports of three refugees in Cologne attacks 'wrong'
Police at Cologne central station. Photo: DPA
16:07 CET+01:00
Numbers circulating in English-language media about the number of refugees involved in crimes in Cologne on New Year's Eve are wrong, Cologne prosecutors say.

Speaking to The Local, Ulrich Bremer, spokesman for the Cologne prosecution service, said that he could not provide any information on how many of the 73 people currently being investigated in relation to the crimes were asylum seekers.

The Independent reported earlier on Monday that only three of the people under investigation were asylum seekers from Iraq or Syria.

As their source, they cite an article in Die Welt which at no point gives figures on the asylum status of individual suspects. 

Associated Press, meanwhile, reported Bremer telling them that the majority of suspects were asylum seekers.

But Bremer made clear to The Local that he could not give figures on how many were refugees and how many were illegal immigrants.

He did give a breakdown of the figures on the men's citizenship, showing that the vast majority come from two countries - Morocco and Algeria.

Whereas 30 of the suspects come from Morocco and 27 are Algerian, no other nationality has more than four men being investigated, with Iraq having the third-highest at four.

“The vast majority of suspects do not have permission to stay in Germany, but this is for different reasons, encompassing people whose asylum applications haven't been accepted and illegal immigrants,” Bremer said.

He also said that the overwhelming majority of suspects arrived in Germany in 2015.

Over 1,000 reports have been made to police about sexual assaults, petty theft and violence which mainly took place during New Year's Eve celebrations in the vicinity of Cologne's central station - with 274 of these complaints related to sexual assault.

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