You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

German police probe sex assault link to known crime gang

Associated Press logoAssociated Press 06/01/2016 By FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press

UP NEXT
UP NEXT
COLOGNE, Germany — German police said Wednesday that they are investigating whether a string of sexual assaults and thefts at New Year is linked to a known criminal network.

The assaults in Cologne last week have prompted outrage in Germany and a fresh debate about immigration, after police said the perpetrators appeared to be of "Arab or North African origin."

A spokesman for police in the nearby city of Duesseldorf said officers there have identified more than 2,000 suspects of North African origin in connection with organized theft offenses since the start of 2014.

___________________________________________________

More on MSN:

Sky News: Captain sacked for grounding nuclear sub

PA: UK condemns North Korea hydrogen bomb test

Mirror: Police find cocaine haul worth £480m

___________________________________________________

Some of the offenses also involved sexual assaults as a means of distracting victims, and Duesseldorf police were cooperating closely with their counterparts in Cologne to examine possible ties to crimes there, spokesman Markus Niesczeri told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

5, 2016. City officials and police in Cologne are holding a crisis meeting following a series of sex assaults in the western German city on New Year's Eve. Mayor Henriette Reker called Tuesday's meeting to discuss the police response to the assaults that occurred around Cologne's main train station, next to the city's famous cathedral, during the night. (Oliver Berg/dpa via AP) © Provided by Associated Press 5, 2016. City officials and police in Cologne are holding a crisis meeting following a series of sex assaults in the western German city on New Year's Eve. Mayor Henriette Reker called Tuesday's meeting to discuss the police response to the assaults that occurred around Cologne's main train station, next to the city's famous cathedral, during the night. (Oliver Berg/dpa via AP) The events in Cologne involved a crowd of around a thousand men. Police say at least 90 criminal complaints were filed, and that some men in the crowd formed smaller groups and surrounded women.

Authorities have cautioned that the nationality and residency status of the suspects is still unknown, since nobody has yet been arrested in connection with the offenses.

Germany's top security official stressed that anyone involved must be punished regardless of where they come from. He said that "a general suspicion against refugees is just as out of place as keeping quiet about criminal structures, if they can be verified."

"All of the perpetrators, of whatever origin, must be punished," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told Wednesday's edition of the Bild daily. "If refugees were among them, we must address that openly."

Germany registered nearly 1.1 million people as asylum seekers last year, according to Interior Ministry figures released Wednesday.

____

Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.

AdChoices
AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon