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