The police chief of Cologne, Germany has been fired over his handling of a wave of sexual assaults that rocked the city New Year’s Eve.
Officially, Wolfgang Albers will be going into early retirement at the age of 60. But according to Reuters, Albers isn’t simply quitting, but was pushed out because of his role in what has become a Europe-wide scandal regarding police handling of crime linked with migrants from the Middle East and Africa.
The move was first reported by the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, a local newspaper. Interior Minister Ralf Jäger said Friday the move was necessary to “restore public confidence” in Cologne’s police force.
Cologne police initially claimed festivities on New Year’s Eve were “relaxed.” Several days later, however, information emerged that over a hundred women were victims of a mob of men who sexually assaulted and robbed them in the vicinity of Cologne’s central train station. During the assaults, police were helpless to enforce order.
The attackers were described as North African and Middle Eastern in appearance. Internal police documents reveal the assaults were systematic in nature, with the men coordinating to surround and grope women.
As the story developed, Albers claimed police had no evidence the attackers were of Syrian origin. But Thursday night, several emails leaked showing German police knew as early as Jan. 2 that many of the attackers were Syrian.
The apparent cover-up of migrant crime in Cologne caused a major scandal for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who spearheaded a policy to welcome over a million migrants to Germany in 2015.
Adding to the scandal, similar coordinated assaults by migrants occurred in other German cities.
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