Cologne po­lice chief dis­missed over han­dling of New Year’s Eve as­saults

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

BER­LIN — The po­lice chief of the Ger­man city of Cologne was dis­missed Fri­day amid mount­ing crit­i­cism of his force’s han­dling of a string of New Year’s Eve sex­ual as­saults and rob­beries that po­lice and wit­nesses have blamed largely on for­eign­ers. The state govern­ment of North Rhine-West­phalia said it was send­ing Wolf­gang Al­bers into early re­tire­ment, and the 60year-old com­man­der said he un­der­stood the rea­sons why. The state’s in­te­rior min­is­ter, Ralf Jaeger, said Al­bers’ re­moval was “nec­es­sary to re­store pub­lic trust and the Cologne po­lice’s abil­ity to act with a view to up­com­ing ma­jor events.” Cologne’s an­nual Car­ni­val is next month. Al­bers had faced mount­ing crit­i­cism for the po­lice re­sponse to New Year’s Eve at­tacks on women by groups of men within a 1,000-strong crowd de­scribed by po­lice as pre­dom­i­nantly Arab or North African in ori­gin. The Ger­man govern­ment said 31 sus­pects were briefly de­tained for ques­tion­ing af­ter the New Year’s Eve trou­ble, among them 18 asy­lum-seek­ers. The 31 in­cluded nine Al­ge­ri­ans, eight Moroc­cans, five Ira­ni­ans, four Syr­i­ans, two Ger­mans and one per­son each from Iraq, Ser­bia and the United States. None of the 31 has been ac­cused of specif­i­cally com­mit­ting sex­ual as­saults, the as­pect of Cologne’s dis­tur­bances that at­tracted most pub­lic out­rage at home and abroad.

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