Monday 24 July 2017

Claim that Cologne police told to tone down 'rape' report

Police officers survey the area in front of the main train station and the Cathedral in Cologne, western Germany, on January 6, 2016, where dozens of apparently coordinated sexual assaults were perpetred against women on New Year's Eve. / AFP / Roberto PfeilROBERTO PFEIL/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers survey the area in front of the main train station and the Cathedral in Cologne, western Germany, on January 6, 2016, where dozens of apparently coordinated sexual assaults were perpetred against women on New Year's Eve. / AFP / Roberto PfeilROBERTO PFEIL/AFP/Getty Images

Justin Huggler in Berlin

Senior German politicians allegedly tried to pressure police in Cologne to remove the word "rape" from reports about the mass sexual assaults committed by asylum seekers on New Year's Eve.

The former Cologne police chief was removed from his post in January after it emerged the police had covered up the scale and seriousness of the assaults.

At the time it was believed police initiated the cover-up over concerns most of the perpetrators were foreign nationals.

Now Cologne's 'Express' newspaper has published a leaked police memo which it claims shows that the cover-up went much higher than previously thought, and was ordered by the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The new allegations have left Ralf Jäger, the state's interior minister, facing calls for his resignation.

About 600 women were victims of sexual assault in the area around Cologne main railway station on New Year's Eve, according to an official report by Mr Jäger published this week.

But the day after the attacks, Mr Jäger's ministry ordered police to remove references to "rape" from a preliminary report, according to 'Express'.The newspaper has published what it says is an internal police memo of a phone call from the interior ministry on New Year's Day.

Officers had written a report which referred to "rape, sexual assaults and thefts carried out by a large group of foreign nationals".

But according to the memo one officer received a phone call from the ministry asking him to tone down the report.

"Ch Insp H told me the ministry wants the major event report cancelled, or references to rape to be removed," the memo reads. The newspaper named one of the officers involved as Insp Joachim H.

According to the minister's formal report to the state parliament, which was published this week, 153 suspects have so far been identified in the sexual assaults and robberies committed on New Year's Eve.

The overwhelming majority, 149, are foreign nationals, including 103 Moroccans and Algerians. Police believe 68 of the suspects are asylum seekers, 18 are in Germany illegally, and four are unaccompanied minors. The reports says the immigration status of 47 is unclear.

Only 24 suspects are in custody. According to the report, 1,527 separate offences were committed against 1,218 victims. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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