german police policija njemačka.jpg
Photograph: EPA/SVEN HOPPE

A 19-year-old wanted on a European arrest warrant has been taken into custody in Switzerland and will be extradited to Germany for his role in crimes carried out in Cologne on New Year's Eve, police said Thursday.

Alongside a 24-year-old accomplice, the man stole goods from a shop in the southern German city of Constance before crossing the border into Switzerland, police said in a statement. He was arrested after a store detective who followed the pair contacted the authorities.

Police in the Swiss town of Kreuzlingen later discovered that the man was wanted on a European arrest warrant for his role as "one of the key suspects" in crimes committed in the western German city on December 31.

A police spokesman told dpa the man is a Moroccan national and is wanted on suspicion of sexual harassment and theft.

More than 1,100 complaints were made to police and prosecutors following the New Year's Eve crimes, and most of the suspects were described as men of North African or Arab descent. More than 480 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.

Prosecutors in Kreuzlingen have started the extradition process, the police statement said.

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