More women come for­ward al­leg­ing sex­ual as­saults in Cologne

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

More women came for­ward Wed­nes­day al­leg­ing they were sex­u­ally as­saulted and robbed dur­ing New Year’s Eve cel­e­bra­tions in the Ger­man city of Cologne, as po­lice faced mount­ing crit­i­cism for their han­dling of the in­ci­dent.

At least 106 crim­i­nal com­plaints have been filed since last week, Cologne po­lice spokesman Christoph Gilles said. The fig­ure has in­creased from 90 since Tues­day.

“At least three quar­ters have a sex­ual com­po­nent. In two cases we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing crimes that amount to rape,” Gilles told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

About 1,000 men de­scribed by po­lice as be­ing of “Arab or North African ori­gin” gath­ered around Cologne’s main sta­tion, next to the city’s fa­mous cathe­dral, on the night from Thurs­day to Fri­day.

Smaller groups then sur­rounded in­di­vid­ual women, ha­rassed them and stole their be­long­ings.

Po­lice ini­tially failed to men­tion the as­saults in re­port the fol­low­ing morn­ing, de­scrib­ing the fes­tiv­i­ties as “largely peace­ful.”

De­tails of the at­tacks only emerged over the week­end and calls have grown for a com­pre­hen­sive re­view of po­lice ac­tions on the night, af­ter some wit­nesses claimed that of­fi­cers didn’t stop the at­tack­ers.

Gilles said po­lice were well pre­pared on the night, but “sur­prised” by the scale and ag­gres­sion of the at­tacks.

Mayor Hen­ri­ette Reker said she ex­pected po­lice to an­a­lyze what went wrong and “draw con­se­quences from that.”

She didn’t elab­o­rate on what that would en­tail.

Po­lice chief Wolf­gang Al­bers has shrugged off ques­tions about his own fu­ture, say­ing that he will stay in his post, though he ac­knowl­edged that the ini­tial fail­ure to men­tion the as­saults was a mis­take.

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