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3 asylum seekers arrested for sexual assaults at music fest

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3 asylum seekers arrested for sexual assaults at music fest
The Schlossgrabenfest in Darmstadt. Photo: DPA
10:14 CEST+02:00
Police in Darmstadt have received 14 complaints of sexual assault from women who attended a music festival in the city over the weekend.

In total 26 women have made statements to police about cases of sexual assault at the Schlossgrabenfest, a free music festival in the central German town, a spokesperson told The Local.

Of the 14 reports, some involve several women and only after further investigations will it become clear how many of the women were victims of sexual assaults, police said.

Three of the women had gone straight to police who were on patrol at the four-day festival on Saturday night.

The women complained that they had been encircled and then sexually harassed by a group of men they described as being of south Asian appearance.

Police were then able to arrest three men at the site of the festival. All three were between the ages of 28 and 31 and are asylum seekers from Pakistan, a spokesperson confirmed to The Local.

By Tuesday afternoon, more women had made complaints of being sexually assaulted at the festival, describing a similar pattern to the assaults and also that the men appeared to come from south Asia.

There has also been one reported case of theft this year. But it is not clear whether it is connected to sexual assault. While the woman who reported it was assaulted, she only noticed that her purse was missing the next morning.

Last year there was only one reported crime that fell under the definition of a sexual crime, Darmstadt police told The Local. In that instance it was a case of exhibitionism.

“Up until this year we have had no cases of sexual assault where men surround women, like we have this year,” the spokesperson said.

The arrested men were handed sexual assault charges and later released from police custody.

Sexual violence in focus

Over New Year in Cologne and several other cities hundreds of women reported being sexually assaulted and robbed by groups of men at street parties.

Most of the men under investigation for the crimes come from north Africa.

Public debate after the attacks centred around the question of whether Germany’s refugee policy -. whereby hundreds of thousands of people have entered the Federal Republic from countries with regressive attitudes on sexual equality - creates an increased danger for women in public places.

So far there have been few prosecutions and even no convictions over the New Year's sexual assaults in Cologne. The trial of an Algerian man collapsed earlier in May after the victim said she could not identify him.

Meanwhile, the state government in North Rhine-Westphalia is battling accusations that it ordered police officers to remove the word "rape" from their reports of the night's events.

MPs in Berlin also recently voted through a move to classify north African countries Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria as "safe countries of origin" - making it much more difficult for their citizens to apply for asylum.

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