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Moroccan Sentenced in Cologne New Year's Eve Incident

  • VOA News

FILE - Police lead away a man at the main train station in Cologne, Germany, Jan. 12, 2016. New Year’s Eve sexual assaults and robberies in Cologne were blamed largely on foreigners and pushed the discussion about the migration crisis.

FILE - Police lead away a man at the main train station in Cologne, Germany, Jan. 12, 2016. New Year’s Eve sexual assaults and robberies in Cologne were blamed largely on foreigners and pushed the discussion about the migration crisis.

A court in the German city of Cologne has given a suspended jail term to a Moroccan man convicted of trying to steal a mobile phone from a woman on New Year's Eve, a night when numerous sexual assaults were reported and blamed on immigrants.

In Wednesday's proceedings, the court gave a six-month suspended jail term to the 23-year-old man, who was also ordered to pay a $110 fine.

He admitted taking the phone while the woman was taking photographs in a crowded city square. The woman pursued and caught the man, and he was arrested. He was found to have been carrying a small amount of drugs in his socks.

Later Wednesday, a 22-year-old Tunisian man and an 18-year-old Moroccan will appear to face charges they stole a camera from a man during Cologne's New Year's Eve celebrations.

Sexual assault complaints

While the public scandal over the New Year's Eve arrests involved a spate of sexual assaults, neither of the cases scheduled for Wednesday included a sexual assault complaint.

Police have been struggling to restore public confidence since hundreds of women were groped and robbed by a mob of mostly North African and Arab men as the city rang in 2016.

Around 1,000 complaints were filed over the crime spree that has ignited an intense debate about Germany's ability to integrate the 1.1 million asylum seekers it took in last year.

Cologne's held its Carnival celebration in early February under tight security to prevent a repeat of the New Year's Eve assaults.

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