Police investigating possible gang link to Cologne sex assaults

COLOGNE, Germany -- Police in Germany said Wednesday they are investigating whether a string of sexual assaults and thefts during New Year's celebrations in Cologne is linked to a known criminal network in the nearby city of Duesseldorf.

See Full Article

The assaults last week have prompted outrage in Germany and a fresh debate about immigration, after police said the perpetrators appeared to be of "Arab or North African origin."

A more nuanced picture of what happened in the New Year's Eve chaos outside the Cologne train station emerged Wednesday.

Police said about 1,000 men gathered there and that smaller groups surrounded individual women, harassed them and stole their belongings. Police do not believe all 1,000 men were involved in the attacks.

The interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state, where Cologne and Duesseldorf are located, told news agency dpa that police have identified three suspects but have not yet arrested anyone.

About 90 people filed criminal complaints, though police have not said how many of them were women who were sexually assaulted. At least one woman said she was raped.

Police said some of the assaults in Cologne appeared similar to incidents that have been reported over the past two years in Duesseldorf, where men have groped women to distract them before stealing their belongings. The two cities are 40 kilometres apart.

Markus Niesczeri, a spokesman for Duesseldorf police, said that since the start of 2014, officers there have identified more than 2,000 suspects of North African origin in connection with organized thefts, though he did not say how many. He declined to say whether there have been any arrests in those cases.

Duesseldorf police were working closely with their counterparts in Cologne to determine whether crimes in the two cities might be connected, Niesczeri said.

Authorities have cautioned that the nationality and residency status of the Cologne suspects is still unknown, since no one has been arrested.

Germany registered nearly 1.1 million people as asylum seekers last year, according to Interior Ministry figures released Wednesday, and politicians who have called for limits on migration have seized on the incident in Cologne to bolster their position.

Germany's top security official stressed that anyone involved must be punished regardless of where they come from. He said that "a general suspicion against refugees is just as out of place as keeping quiet about criminal structures, if they can be verified."

"All of the perpetrators, of whatever origin, must be punished," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told Wednesday's edition of the Bild daily. "If refugees were among them, we must address that openly."

Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Syria: ISIS militants defeated in last major stronghold

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT -- Pro-government forces defeated the Islamic State group in its last major stronghold in Syria, state media and a monitoring group reported on Sunday, leaving the militants to defend just strips of desert territory in the country and a besieged pocket outside the capital, Damascus. Source
  • TransCanada sends more crews to South Dakota's Keystone pipeline leak

    World News CBC News
    TransCanada Corp. says the company has sent additional crews and equipment to the site of a 795,000-litre oil spill from its Keystone pipeline in South Dakota. TransCanada said Saturday it is making progress in its investigation into the cause of the spill on farmland in Marshall County, near the North Dakota border, about 400 kilometres west of Minneapolis. Source
  • Canada faces Russia-linked cyberthreats at home and abroad, NATO chief says

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- The head of NATO is urging Canada to be vigilant about the threat of Russian cyberwarfare both on the battlefield and at home. NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said Canadian troops in Latvia are being smeared by Russia-backed online propaganda aimed at undermining the alliance, and it may not be long before Canada sees similar tactics being waged within its borders. Source
  • Norway's king hospitalized with infection

    World News CTV News
    HELSINKI - Norway's royal palace says King Harald has been hospitalized with an infection and remains in satisfactory condition with improving health. The royal palace said in a short statement Sunday that the 80-year-old monarch is being treated at an Oslo hospital where he was taken Friday but didn't disclose further details. Source
  • Violent evictions, homelessness are the cost of Lagos, Nigeria's megacity

    World News CBC News
    "I was born and brought up in Otodo Gbame community," says 31-year-old Julius Oladele, sitting with his feet burning on the hot sand strewn with broken glass, bamboo and corrugated iron sheets. "They came in November 2016. Source
  • Police question Israeli leader over corruption accusations

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM -- Police have arrived at the official residence of Israel's prime minister in what is believed to be part of an investigation into corruption allegations. Police have previously questioned Benjamin Netanyahu over allegations that he received gifts from Hollywood and business figures. Source
  • 1 dead after training exercise at CFB Shilo

    Canada News CTV News
    One person is dead following a training exercise at CFB Shilo, a spokesperson for the Canadian Forces tells CTV News. "Family notification is still ongoing. We will not release any further information until that has been properly ?completed," Lori Truscott said in an emailed statement. Source
  • One person was killed in an accident during training at CFB Shilo

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA - One person is dead after an accident during training exercises at the Canadian Forces base in Shilo, Man. Very little information is available yet about the incident which occurred on the base 35 kilometres east of Brandon, Man. Source
  • Key players in Zimbabwe's political crisis

    World News CBC News
    A lot has happened in the past few days in Zimbabwe, where the world's oldest head of state tries to remain in power even under military house arrest. Thousands of giddy Zimbabweans have poured in the streets to demand his departure, tired of a collapsing economy that once was one of Africa's strongest. Source
  • Canadians win team relay silver at luge World Cup

    Canada News CBC News
    Canada earned a medal in the first team relay event of the season at the luge World Cup in Innsbruck, Austria, on Sunday. Alex Gough, Mitchel Malyk, Tristan Walker, and Justin Snith combined to finish 0.358 seconds behind the German sleds. Source