BERLIN/BUDAPEST – Authorities in the German city of Cologne said Tuesday that the number of criminal complaints arising from a rash of violence targeting women on New Year’s Eve had risen to 561.
At the start of the week, prosecutors had reported 516 police reports by alleged victims of groups of men of “Arab or North African appearance” who groped and robbed women in a large crowd of revelers in the city center. Two rapes were also reported.
“That represents a slight rise in the total,” a spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office in the western city told AFP.
He said the 561 complaints covered 653 alleged criminal offenses. In previous reports, authorities had said that about 45 percent of the crimes were of a sexual nature.
Authorities told DPA news agency that criminal probes had been opened against 12 North African suspects, of whom five were in custody.
The case has inflamed tensions in Germany, which took in nearly 1.1 million asylum seekers in 2015, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and put pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel for her welcoming stance toward refugees fleeing war.
Hungarian public media were meanwhile accused by an independent news site Tuesday of using video footage of a sexual attack in Cairo in a report of the New Year’s Eve violence against women in Germany.
Below a headline reading “shocking footage of the Cologne molestation,” an article said that “a group of migrants surround a blond woman who calls for help in vain.”
“The footage was made on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, and appeared a short time ago on one of the biggest video sharing sites,” the article continued.
The clip appeared on a news bulletin on the M1 public TV channel Tuesday as well as on the hirado.hu news site run by the public service broadcaster MTVA.
The privately owned Index.hu news site later reported, however, that a reader had sent it a video uploaded to the YouTube site on June 30, 2013, titled “Dutch tourist raped in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt” that appears to have been used by MTVA.
MTVA have yet to react to the news site’s allegation or respond to an AFP request for clarification.
The claim comes two days after an M1 news program accused German media of manipulation and biased reporting of the violence in Cologne.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s hard-line anti-migrant government has also criticized German media for its coverage of the attacks.
“The press is more free in Central Europe than in Western Europe,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Monday.