Germany’s Largest Broadcaster Apologizes For Not Reporting Sexual Assault Attacks

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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Germany’s largest television station ZDF issued an apology Wednesday for not reporting on the New Year’s Eve sexual assault scandal in the city of Cologne, where more than 100 women were victims of a “civil war like” situation.

Editors of the network’s nightly news show “Heute” (translated to “Today” in English) confessed to not covering the attacks despite knowing the magnitude and severity of the events. Leaked police documents also confirm authorities held back on reporting information to the public until the media broke the story Monday — four days after the attacks.

Authorities say the attacks were carried out by a known criminal gang of around 1,000 young men of north African or Middle Eastern decent. Both the media and police have been criticized for protecting the perpetrators because of their foreign background. (RELATED: Eyewitness Describes ‘Civil War Like’ Sex Assault Situation in Germany [VIDEO])

ZDF editor Elmar Thevessen said the staff wanted to wait on reporting the attacks until after a press conference Tuesday, which he admits was “a clear misjudgement.”

“The news situation was clear enough. It was a mistake of the 7 p.m. ‘heute’ show not to at least report the incidents,” Thevessen explained on the show’s Facebook page.

The police issued a statement New Year’s Day saying there was a “relaxed atmosphere” in the city center.

After more than 60 complaints were filed by women, the state police chief Wolfgang Albers came clean, however, and said the events were of “a new dimension in crime.“Albers further said the police held off on reporting out the events because they weren’t clear on the details of the night.

A leaked police document published Wednesday by the Bild newspaper reveals police were well aware of what happened all along. A senior officer said in his report it was a “gauntlet for women” and that people easily could have died.

The perpetrators ostensibly weren’t intimidated by the police presence and aimed fireworks and threw bottles at the responding officers, who left the scene without making any arrests.

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