By Blake Neff
Men involved in the wave of New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany claimed to be Syrian refugees who aggressively defied police, according to a newly-leaked police report.
The police report, dated Jan. 4 and published in Der Spiegel Thursday, details a chaotic situation far more violent than police initially admitted. Overwhelmed police officers tried to intervene to protect women who ran through a “gauntlet” of men who groped, attacked and robbed them. Violence was so severe, police initially feared there would be fatalities.
Thus far, although the attackers were described as Middle Eastern and North African in appearance, police have not publicly confirmed that any of them were Syrian refugees. The police report, however, reveals several of the attackers publicly claimed to be refugees that night.
“I’m a Syrian!” one man shouted, according to the report. “You have to treat me kindly! Mrs. Merkel invited me.”
Another pulled out a residence permit and ripped it apart right in front of police, saying “You can’t touch me. I’ll just go back tomorrow and get a new one.”
The report also offers terrifying details about the scene near Cologne’s central train station. At one point, officers were kept from reaching people crying for help by tight clusters of men who blocked their way. At other times, witnesses who tried to supply the names of offenders to police were threatened. Officers attempting to maintain order were pelted with glass bottles and even fireworks, Der Spiegel reported.
Police tried to restore order by shutting down train platforms, making people leave the premises. These orders, however, were either ignored or deliberately defied, with people sometimes forcing their way over train tracks to get back to closed platforms.
The violence in Cologne has turned into a colossal problem for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who spearheaded a policy that welcomed nearly 1.1 million migrants into the country in 2015. At first, Cologne police described New Year’s celebrations as “relaxed,” fueling allegations that the government was covering up violence by Middle Eastern immigrants.
Even now, Cologne police publicly claim there is no evidence of migrant involvement. But an interview with a police officer published Thursday in local paper Express, says police detained 14 Syrians and one Afghan on New Year’s Eve. None of the men had been in the country for more than a few weeks. They were later released.
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