A 26-year-old Algerian man was arrested Monday for his involvement in New Year’s Eve attacks on women, making him the first of about 1,000 alleged perpetrators to receive sexual assault-related charges.
The man is accused of groping a woman and stealing her cell phone, which was in his possession at the time of the arrest according to Ulrich Bremer, Cologne’s chief prosecutor. A further 21 suspects have been charged with non-sexual offenses, with eight awaiting trial. A total of 497 women reported they were sexually assaulted.
Police performed identity checks on more than 70 people throughout the night but failed to detain any people due to a lack of manpower. (RELATED: German Police Allegedly Covered Up Syrian Refugee Status Of NYE Sex Assault Perpetrators Because It Was ‘Politically Awkward’)
The day after the attacks were exposed, Cologne-based attorney Nikolaos Gazeas said it will be hard to convict even one person of sexual assault, since groups carried out the attacks.
“You have to prove a perpetrator’s personal guilt,” Gazeas told Deutsche Welle. “That’s problematic in the case of crimes committed from within groups, and it’s particularly problematic in the case of New Year’s Eve because everything was so chaotic at Cologne’s main train station.”
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