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Wednesday 26 October 2016

Two men convicted of theft in first trials over Cologne crimes

Published 24/02/2016 | 09:36

The crimes in Cologne caused public uproar as Germany deals with a huge influx of migrants
The crimes in Cologne caused public uproar as Germany deals with a huge influx of migrants

Two men have been convicted of theft and given suspended sentences in the first trials for New Year's Eve crimes in the German city of Cologne.

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A third suspect was convicted under juvenile law and put on probation.

The spate of reported thefts and assaults on women near Cologne's main station caused public uproar as Germany faces a huge influx of migrants. More than 1,000 criminal complaints were filed, over 400 of those alleging sexual crimes.

Neither of Wednesday's trials involved allegations of sexual assaults. Names were not released in accordance with German privacy laws.

The Cologne district court handed a 23-year-old Moroccan asylum-seeker a six-month suspended sentence and a 100-euro (£79) fine for stealing a mobile phone from a woman as she photographed the city's cathedral and for possessing drugs.

In a separate trial, a 22-year-old Tunisian was given a three-month suspended sentence for theft. The court found he distracted a man on a bridge near Cologne's main station while his 18-year-old Moroccan co-defendant stole a bag containing a camera.

The younger man, who the court said also committed three thefts nearly a year ago, was convicted and put on probation for two years. Both will have to do 60 hours' community work.

In the first trial, the Moroccan apologised to the victim. The 20-year-old woman did not immediately see who had stolen the phone but caught him after an Afghan refugee who had witnessed the theft pointed him out to her.

The court stressed that the future of the man's asylum application was not a matter for Wednesday's proceedings.

Amid outrage over the Cologne crimes, the German government is moving to make it easier to deport criminal foreigners.

The changes would mean that even a suspended prison sentence would be grounds for deportation if someone is found guilty of certain crimes - including bodily harm, sexual assault, violent theft or serial shoplifting.

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