The mass sex attacks on New Year’s Eve 2015 in the centre of Cologne shocked Germany and the world. A year on and after more than 1,000 criminal charges, there have been few arrests and convictions.
The mass attacks topped over a thousand criminal complaints from young men and women who had been robbed, sexually assaulted, and even raped in the square of the Cologne cathedral and central train station.
The news took several days to make headlines and Breitbart London was the first English-language news outlet to report on the massive scale of the assaults, the accusations of cover-ups by the government, and the total inaction on behalf of the Cologne police.
As of December, the statistics show that 1,222 criminal charges have been investigated by the authorities, 513 of which were directly related to sexual assault.
A total of 1,310 individuals claim to have been victims of crime. Among them, 662 say they were sexually attacked and 28 claim they were raped. The discrepancy in numbers with the police investigations is believed to relate to the number of claims the police were willing, for whatever reason, to investigate.
Following investigations, police have managed to identify 333 suspects and of those 87 are said to have committed sexual offences. Police have only been able to track down and bring a mere 35 migrants to court – of those, 24 were found guilty of crimes.
But some cases are now in appeal, meaning the total number of final convictions for the over one thousand attacks stands at just 18, and of that number only five were convicted of sexual assault. One of those five migrants convicted for sex assaults was given a suspended sentence and laughed in court after the judge gave his ruling.
Some 820 investigations are still being pursued by police but many have been shelved because the authorities have not been able to find or identify those responsible for the crimes.
The reactions to the Cologne attacks were varied, with some like the PEGIDA movement expressing outrage, holding a demonstration which attracted a large crowd. The mayor of Cologne was slammed by many after she told girls to keep migrants “at arm’s length” to prevent future attacks, a move that was interpreted as an act of victim blaming by some.
The police were also heavily criticised for their lack presence on the night, with the chief of police losing his position in the aftermath. It was later revealed that the dismissed chief of police had actually appealed to the head of state government for more officers on the night but had been turned down.
While the police chief lost his job, the left wing politician who ordered there be no more officers deployed, Ralf Jäger, remains in position a year later.
Reports claimed that the government had told the police to cover up the extent of the assaults and not mention that the attackers were migrants. Six months later, authorities finally admitted the attackers came largely from the Middle East and North Africa.
Despite the later admission, some still worry that the government is trying to cover up the extent of the attacks. A German MP revealed that the Cologne attacks were largely absent from the Police Crime Statistics (PKS) which only counted 17 out of the 513 sexual assaults reported.
Police are also said to have received warnings about the potential for mass sex attacks by North African migrants mere days before New Year’s Eve but did not act on the information.
The German authorities were also furious. Not at the reports of cover-ups within the police and government, but at the officials who had leaked documents that showed the suspects were largely from migrant backgrounds. The left-wing government in North Rhine-Westphalia sought to prosecute whistleblowers who had leaked documents from the attacks.
Victims of the assaults were forced to live not only with the assaults they had endured but in some cases public backlash. One victim, who asserted that migrants had assaulted her, was harassed and labelled a racist for telling the truth about her experiences. Another girl who was raped even became pregnant as a result of her ordeal.
Nearly a year later, New Year’s Eve is again just weeks away. Determined to be better prepared, authorities have announced a measures to ensure the sex assaults do not happen again. Safe zones are to be set up in the square and all people coming into the square are to be identified and helicopters will be deployed to monitor the area.
With social media accounts of migrants being monitored to try and predict future assaults, it may be Cologne’s Cathedral Square is the only place in Germany safe from attack this festive season.