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Sexual assaults reported at Berlin street festival

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Sexual assaults reported at Berlin street festival
File photo of the carnival parade. Photo: Soeren Stache/DPA
15:17 CEST+02:00
Two women were sexually assaulted and mugged by a group of around ten men during Berlin's Carnival of Cultures, an annual street parade celebrating the diversity of the German capital.

The pair, aged 17 and 18, were dancing on a stage in Kreuzberg on Sunday afternoon, when they were surrounded by the group of around ten men who harrassed them and touched them, according to a police report. The women tried to get away but were unable to, and the younger girl's mobile phone was stolen.

A witness, who had seen the girls looking frightened and noticed that one of them was holding the girl in a "strange" way, filmed the men - one of whom reacted aggressively when he noticed.

Police were able to intervene and detained three of the attackers, one 14-year-old and two 17-year-olds, confirming later on Twitter that they were already known to police. After taking their details, the men were released.

"The three suspects recognized are known to the police. Two are of Turkish descent, the background of the third is unclear."

Investigations are continuing and anyone who was a victim of or witness to further assaults should contact Berlin police or make a complaint using the Internetwache online interface.

The carnival passed without any other serious incident, although police also reported two instances of 'hug scammers', in Charlottenburg and the central Friedrichstraße, perhaps taking advantage of the high spirits of the carnival.

In both cases, two men were involved; one asked for a high-five or to borrow a cigarette lighter from the passer-by, and then both grabbed the victim's arm and stole their watch. Plainclothes officers apprehended the perpetrators on both occasions.

Police were likely particularly vigilant during the weekend street festival, following the mass sexual assaults which took place during Cologne's New Year's street celebrations. The ugly scenes cast a harsh spotlight on the city's police who initially failed to prevent the violence and then tried to play down the extent of the chaos for several days. Germany has tightened its legal definition of rape following the attacks and the first three suspects have gone on trial, with one Algerian man cleared of sexual assault charges.


 

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