Cologne attackers “may never be caught”


Cologne attacks: Most suspects “may never be caught”

Image caption
Nearly 500 women have made allegations of sexual assault following the mass attacks outside the main railway station in Cologne

Most of the men who sexually assaulted women in Cologne on New Year”s Eve may never be caught, the city”s police chief has said.

Speaking to the BBC, Juergen Mathies said CCTV footage was not good enough to identify sex crimes.

Detectives have identified 75 suspects. Most are from North Africa and entered Germany illegally or sought asylum.

More than 500 criminal complaints were filed to police, with 40% alleging sexual assault.

“The CCTV footage is not good enough to clearly identify sexual assaults. We can see some thefts but that”s all. We are relying on witness accounts and victims identifying their attackers,” said Mr Mathies.

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Two Moroccans and a Tunisian are due to go on trial later for theft, the first time anyone has appeared in court in connection with the New Year attacks.

Thirteen men have been arrested for theft, but only one, a 26-year-old Algerian asylum seeker, has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault.

Mr Mathies” predecessor Wolfgang Albers was fired over his handling of the wave of assaults and robberies.

An official report found that Cologne police made “serious mistakes” in not calling in reinforcements and in the way they informed the public.

About 1,000 men of North African and Arab origin gathered near Cologne”s main station on 31 December. Smaller groups formed, first surrounding women and then threatening and attacking them, the report said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel”s immigration policy has since come under mounting criticism.

About 1.1 million asylum seekers arrived in Germany in 2015.