‘Mrs Merkel invited me’: Cologne assailants’ ‘shameful’ acts detailed in police report
A German police report has described scenes during the mass assaults on women in Cologne on New Year's Eve as “chaotic and shameful.” It outlined the highly inappropriate behavior of perpetrators, described as migrants, who demanded respect from police.
Outlined by Der Spiegel and Bild newspapers on Thursday, the report described how police became too overwhelmed to prevent the "fights, thefts, sexual assaults against women.”
“When we arrived, our vehicles were pelted with firecrackers,” the author of the report said. “In the forecourt and on the cathedral steps were a thousand people, mostly males of an immigrant background who were indiscriminately throwing fireworks and bottles into the crowd.”
The author also said that at one point police feared there could be fatalities.
Some of the "heavily intoxicated" perpetrators reportedly tore up residence permits in front of police saying: “You can't touch me. I'll just go back tomorrow and get a new one."
Its author also quoted one of the men engaged in the unrest as saying: "I'm a Syrian! You have to treat me kindly! [Chancellor Angela] Merkel invited me."
The German Interior Ministry stated on Friday that 18 of the 29 men were asylum seekers, Reuters reported.
A police officer anonymously told The Expressnewspaper that his squad had detained several people who had "only been in Germany for a few weeks.”
“There were 14 from Syria and one was from Afghanistan,” he said.
The level of disrespect towards police was “like I have never experienced in my 29 years of public service," the author concluded.
He said that police officers who had been trying to reach people calling out for help were prevented from pushing their way through. Orders to leave the premises of the train station were ignored as well.
A lack of resources prevented security representatives from taking repeated offenders into custody as well as promptly registering all of the complaints at the scene, the report says. Witnesses were reportedly threatened when they tried to help identify the perpetrators.
Cologne police were not prepared to deal with the mass sexual assaults, the city’s police chief told RT on Wednesday.
"Eventually we had a situation where a large group of men were going after women. We did intervene and help. But I'll admit that we were totally bewildered by it all. We have never encountered incidents like this before and we weren't prepared for it," Cologne Chief of Police, Wolfgang Albers, said.
German media said that police were “frustrated at their inability to help.”
Boosted police presence here in #Cologne, Germany after the mass assaults on #NYE. #Koeln#koelnbhfpic.twitter.com/EdSc7Va6fK— Harry Fear (@harryfear) January 6, 2016
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in turn, announced on Thursday that she would consider increasing police numbers and amending relevant laws.
"What happened at New Year is completely unacceptable," Merkel told a news conference in Berlin. "The feeling women had in this case of being completely defenseless and at mercy is for me personally intolerable and so it is important that everything that happened must come out into the open.”
Merkel stressed the necessity to continue reviewing deportation policies and “send a clear signal to people who do not want to stick to our legal framework."
The initial police report following the attacks in Cologne described the situation as “relaxed.” Local authorities later admitted the report was incorrect.
Police said in a statement on Thursday that about 121 criminal cases have been reported, including two cases of rape, while 16 suspects have been detained.
Merkel has been criticized for her open-armed migrant policy; in 2015 Germany was the EU country to welcome the highest number of refugees. In her New Year’s address, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for unity and solidarity across generations, social and ethnic backgrounds, and termed the ongoing refugee crisis an opportunity for the country.
European Studies professor, Laslo Maracs, told RT that the incident in Cologne stems from the fact that authorities couldn’t be further from tackling the refugee crisis.
“We see often in such cases that the victims are blamed: the victims should follow a code of conduct, and not the people who have been committing crimes taken responsible for the things they have been doing!”
“It shows me that we are very far from solving integration puzzles, from building a society where more cultures could be accommodated or adopted. It shows that there is a lot of panic among city and regional governors. The situation is not under control,” he said.