Leaked Document Says 2,000 Men Allegedly Assaulted 1,200 German Women on New Year’s Eve

Rick Noack, Washington Post, July 11, 2016

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But numbers that are now emerging are likely to shock a country still coming to terms with what happened in Cologne more than half a year ago. According to a leaked police document, published by Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and broadcasters NDR and WDR, the previous estimates have to be dramatically revised–upward.

Authorities now think that on New Year’s Eve, more than 1,200 women were sexually assaulted in various German cities, including more than 600 in Cologne and about 400 in Hamburg.

More than 2,000 men were allegedly involved, and 120 suspects–about half of them foreign nationals who had only recently arrived in Germany–have been identified.

Only four have been convicted, but more trials are underway.

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Officials have linked the sexual assaults to the influx of refugees. “There is a connection between the emergence of this phenomenon and the rapid migration in 2015,” Holger Münch, president of the German Federal Crime Police Office, told Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Many suspects had originally come to Germany from North African countries rather than Syria, officials said.

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{snip} Germany’s Parliament passed a stricter sexual-assault law last week that will make it easier for courts to sentence those who facilitate or are involved in assaults.

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Lawmakers were facing intense pressure to pass the new legislation, particularly in the wake of the Cologne assaults. Most of the perpetrators in that city stand accused of groping and facilitating sex assaults as part of a group–accusations that were difficult to prosecute.

The stricter law is also supposed to make it easier for refugees to be deported if they are convicted in sex-assault cases–an aspect of the new law that activists and advocates for refugees have harshly criticized.

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