Germany Detains Hundreds of North African Men at Cologne Rail Station to Avoid Repeat of New Year’s Sexual Assaults

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German police said Sunday they screened hundreds of mostly North African men at Cologne’s main rail station on New Year’s Eve to prevent a repeat of sexual assaults and robberies on the holiday a year earlier.

Police also installed video surveillance equipment to monitor the square outside the railway station, to scrutinize people headed to celebrations in the city center.

“This was clearly about preventing similar incidents to last year,” Cologne Police Chief Juergen Mathies said at a news conference.

Nearly all the 650 people detained for screening were from North African countries, police said, because suspects a year earlier were described as having a North African or Arab appearance.

“Their characteristics were such that potential crimes could indeed be expected,” Mathies said, without elaborating. He denied the screening was racial profiling and said many of those detained had acted aggressively.

“A large part of this group that was checked was such that criminal acts were to be expected,” Mathies said. “That is why we took this clear approach.”

About 160 crimes were reported overnight, including a dozen assaults or insults of a sexual nature, police said. Police arrested 92 people, including 16 Germans and 10 Syrians.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Bart Jansen