Two north African men suspected of involvement in the Cologne, Germany sex attacks which took place on New Year’s Eve were arrested late Thursday. Police found a handwritten cheat sheet on one of the men with phrases like “I want to (have sex)” translated from Arabic to German.
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The two men, whose names were partially released by German authorities, were 16-year-old Issam D. from Morocco and 23-year-old Mohamed T. from Tunisia. The Miami Herald reports Mohamed T. had a note in his pocket with phrases in both Arabic and German including “I want to kiss you,” “big breasts,” “I want to (have sex),” and “I will kill you.” Issam D. was identified by police as a known pickpocket.
In addition to the note, police also found photos and video of women being sexually assaulted on the cell phones belonging to the two men. However, the Washington Post and the Telegraph are both reporting the two men were later released for lack of evidence.
Separately, police claim to have identified a total of 34 suspects, 21 of whom are asylum seekers, with most of them being recent arrivals. The Post reports German authorities identified the nationalities of the suspects as “10 Algerians, 10 Moroccans, five Iranians, four Syrians, two Germans, one American, one Serbian and one Iraqi.” Those suspects are believed to have primarily been involved in thefts and assaults but not the sexual attacks on women.
The total number of police complaints in Cologne has risen to 170, with 113 of those alleging sexual assault. At least one alleged rape has been reported. Similar incidents were reported in several other German cities, including the gang rape of two teenage girls in Weil am Rhein in southern Germany by three Syrian men (two of them just 14-years-old).
The events on New Years Eve have heightened concern about Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open border policy. Germany welcomed roughly one million Middle Eastern and North African immigrants in 2015. Chancellor Merkel has denounced the attacks as “repugnant” and indicated Thursday that deportations would be considered for law breakers. “We must examine again and again whether we have already done what is necessary in terms of deportations from Germany, in order to send clear signals to those who are not prepared to abide by our legal order,” Merkel said.
Wolfgang Albers, Cologne’s Police Chief, was ordered to take early retirement Friday in the first political fallout from the attack.