Court sentences two men for New Year's Eve sex assaults in Cologne

A 21-year old Iraqi man was sentenced to one year probation on Thursday, becoming the first culprit found guilty of sexual assault during mass attacks at New Year's Eve celebrations in the western German city of Cologne.

A 26-year-old Algerian man received the same sentence from the Cologne district court for assisted sexual assault and attempted assault.

More than 1,100 complaints were made to Cologne police and prosecutors following mass assaults on December 31 near the city's main train station. Most of the suspects were described as men of North African or Arab descent, and more than 480 of the complaints related to a sexual offence, ranging from harassment to rape.

The attacks sparked a debate in Germany about how to deal with asylum seekers found guilty of crimes and the country's ability to integrate the 1.1 million migrants who arrived in 2015.

During the trial, one woman spoke through tears as she described how one of the defendants groped her crotch and backside. Her friend described being held by both of the defendants and forcefully kissed on the month.

The women said they had been surrounded by a group of men after going with the two defendants to have their picture taken.

One of the defendants denied any wrongdoing in court, while the other remained silent.

Despite over a thousand complaints of sexual assault having been made to police following the attacks, the only convictions made in connection with the New Year's assaults have been for theft. One man charged with attempted sexual assault was acquitted after a woman failed to recognize him at a hearing.

Last update: Fri, 08/07/2016 - 08:18

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