Austrian police arrested six Afghan migrants in connection with the widely reported spate of sex attacks that occurred in Innsbruck on New Year’s Eve.
In the days after New Year’s Eve in the Tirolean capital of Innsbruck, 18 women came forward claiming to have been the victims of sex attacks. Police confirmed they took six Afghans between the ages of 18 and 22 into custody in connection with the assaults and believe they were responsible for the vast majority of cases reported, Die Presse reports.
Martin Kirchler, a city police officer in Innsbruck, said the migrants lived in different asylum homes in the region and that it was possible there were more suspects at large that the police had yet to identify.
The suspects were located after police had gone to the various asylum homes in the area with security camera footage and photographs of the attackers and a security guard was able to make a positive identification. The first suspect was taken into custody and was able to lead police to five more suspects shortly afterward.
Officer Kirchler said that one of the Afghan migrants readily confessed to the sex assaults, but the other five in custody said they had no memory of the events of the night.
In previous migrant sex assault cases, suspects have tried to claim that they had no memory of incidents because they were intoxicated after consuming large quantities of alcohol. This excuse has led Swedish police in the past to blame “drinking culture” for the prevalence of migrant sex attacks.
Police say that the young migrants met each other on New Year’s Eve but did not spend the entire night together as a group. They also said there was little evidence so far to show that the attacks were planned in advance of the night.
The New Year’s Eve attacks took place in the centre of Innsbruck and were reportedly similar to the Cologne attacks of New Year’s Eve 2015/16 in their nature. Women reported that the men had surrounded them, separated them from their friends and sexually assaulted them. Sex attacks were also reported in other parts of Austria on New Year’s Eve.