Austrian police investigate Afghans over New Year’s Eve sexual assaults

The Innsbruck assaults occurred despite an increased police presence following the previous year's incidents in Cologne and Zurich. [A/Flickr]

Austrian police are investigating six Afghan refugees over sexual attacks on 18 women during New Year’s Eve celebrations in the western province of Tyrol, a police officer involved with the case said yesterday (9 January).

One man has confessed and apologised but the other five deny the accusations, Ernst Kranebitter of the Tyrol police force said, adding that police had made no arrests yet pending the end of their investigation.

Austria investigates New Year's Eve assaults in Innsbruck

Innsbruck police are trying to identify a group of foreign men believed to have sexually assaulted 18 women during New Year’s Eve celebrations, a spokesman said yesterday (4 January).

The women reported that assailants had groped and tried to kiss them that evening as they stood in or near a crowded central square in the city of Innsbruck for a concert and fireworks display.

Some women said they had been clasped by a man from behind while others groped their breasts and genitals, said Kranebitter.

Some victims managed to take pictures of their assailants with their mobile phones, which helped police find the six men, who are aged between 18 and 22 and previously lived in the same migrant hostel, he said.

In neighbouring Germany last year, hundreds of women were sexually assaulted and robbed at New Year’s celebrations in Cologne and suspects were mainly of North African and Arab appearance.

Cologne assaults reverberate across Europe

The attacks carried out against women, in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, are still reverberating across Europe, auguring for more resentment against immigrants, and eroding the remnants of multicultural attitudes. The EURACTIV network reports.

The Innsbruck assaults occurred despite an increased police presence following the previous year’s incidents in Cologne and also last month’s truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin by a failed Tunisian asylum seeker.

Berlin Christmas market attack ‘affects all Europe’

French President François Hollande and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker sent the German people their sympathies after a truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin yesterday evening (19 December) killing 12 people in what police this morning described as “an attack”.

Austria’s interior ministry says the country has seen around 130,000 people apply for asylum since 2015, when more than one million migrants and refugees arrived in Europe, many fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Austrian defence minister eyes plan to overhaul EU migrant policy

Austria’s defence minister has drafted a plan that would revamp the European Union’s migrant policy by establishing a ceiling for migration and only permitting applications for asylum from outside the EU, Germany’s Bild newspaper reported yesterday (5 January).

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