German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been accused of failing after promising in January 2016 to punish those responsible for the Cologne sex attacks with the full power of the law after it was revealed only three people were convicted.
German media which quoted the Chancellor’s words said that in contrast to her promises, not only were only three people successfully prosecuted, but two of those walked away with suspended sentences.
That was in contrast with the fact that 661 women complained about being the victims of sex crimes, of a total of 1,304 who claimed they were victims of offences on that night.
Video Credit: CEN
A confidential police report at the time said: “Women either with a companion or alone found themselves in every sense of the expression being forced to run the gauntlet by a heavily drunk mass of men in scenes that were indescribable.”
In the wake of the scandal hundreds of police officers were drafted into a special commission which included using Scotland Yard’s “super recogniser” technology capable of identifying suspects using video material.
German magazine Spiegel said that the statistics it had now obtained shows exactly how true the Chancellor’s words were when she promised to use the full power of the law.
Of the three convicted, the two who escaped jail were an Iraqi who kissed a girl and licked her face against her will and an Algerian who had been threatening “give me the girls, give the girls or death”.
The only person to be jailed was a Libyan identified only as Mohammed A. because of local privacy laws who had been groping women and was jailed for a year and nine months. The sentence included a conviction for breaching the terms of his asylum in the country.
And despite the massive police operation, all three were only arrested and convicted because they had made selfies of themselves and their victims, which allow them to be identified.
None of the others involved in the attacks could be clearly identified.
Prosecutors in Cologne confirmed they had investigated 290 individuals over the 1304 criminal complaints, resulting in 52 being charged in 43 different cases, including 17 people from Algeria, 16 from Morocco, and 7 from Iraq.
Of the 43 cases, six were cancelled because they could not find the accused in these cases could be restarted if they are ever found. Chances of this happening are however believed to be remote.
Of the 37 other cases that were seen through to the end, 32 ended with convictions but most of the convictions were for theft, robbery and trading in stolen goods.
A Cologne court official Wolfgang Schorn said: “The tumultuous situation over New Year made it very difficult to gather any evidence.” He said the problem was identifying individuals which was extremely difficult.
Harrowing cries of a girl shouting: “No! You cannot touch me!”, can be heard at the beginning of the footage which was filmed by specially-trained police officials.
Video footage released last year show some of the chaotic scenes in which women were assaulted by mostly North African men in the German city.
It also shows fireworks being repeatedly fired into groups of people with many of them exploding at the feet of the police officers trying to control the 2,000-strong crowd.
Revellers can be seen paying little or no attention to instructions from police officers who can be heard expressing their frustration at their inability to deal with the mob.
“I stand here all by myself,” complained one cop.
One teenage victim of last year’s sex attacks, who was named only as Lisa S., 18, spoke publicly about her ordeal saying she was on her way to the New Year’s Eve celebrations in the city’s cathedral square with her two cousins when they were assaulted.
She said: “We were immediately grabbed in our genital area from all sides, my dress was raised. My cousin was grabbed by her arm as they tried to pull her away.
“We tried to defend ourselves but we had no chance, as soon as we could escape one of them groping us, we were again groped by others.”
After they managed to escape, the three cousins spoke to the first policeman they saw but he told them he was busy and could not help, Lisa said.
Cologne was not the only German city were sex attackers escaped from prosecution after out-of-control New Year’s celebrations.
Similar incidents were reported in Frankfurt, Dortmund, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, and Bielefeld.
In an editorial on the subject, bestselling German magazine Spiegel wrote: “The justice system has now finished dealing with the New Year sex attacks in Cologne. However, we are still waiting for answers about the rule of law in the wake of all the promises of the Chancellor.”