Cologne’s police chief has been provisionally suspended following outrage over his department’s handling of the sexual assaults of women on New Year’s Eve reportedly by as many as 1,000 Arab or North African men.
“This step is important so that public trust and the Cologne police’s ability to act can be restored,” Ralf Jäger, the North Rhine Westphalia region’s interior minister, said in a statement, quoted by Deutsche Welle, the German broadcaster.
News about Wolfgang Albers’s provisional suspension came after German authorities said they had identified 18 asylum-seekers among the 31 suspects linked to the New Year’s Eve assaults in Cologne, one of Germany’s most diverse cities. They included nine Algerians, eight Moroccans, four Syrians, five Iranians, two Germans, and one each from Iraq, Serbia, and the U.S., an Interior Ministry spokesman said.
Police officials said there were more than 170 complaints that alleged sexual assault—including two complaints of rape—and robbery during the night. German news reports said two people, one aged 16 and another 23, were arrested overnight in connection with the attacks. Both are reportedly of North African origin. They were later released due to lack of evidence.