German newspaper apologises for publishing false allegations of Cologne-style New Year sex assaults in Frankfurt
netherlands / germany / austria |
migration / racism |
Wednesday February 15, 2017 20:51 by Justin Huggler - Telegraph
Germany’s highest-selling newspaper has issued an apology for publishing false allegations of Cologne-style sex attacks in Frankurt during New Year celebrations.
Police in the city ordered an investigation after Bild claimed a mob of some 900 drunk asylum-seekers had assaulted women on one of the city’s best known shopping streets.
But the police investigation found conclusively that there was no mob and that the alleged sex assaults did not take place.
“The allegations are baseless and entirely without grounds,” the Frankfurt police said in a statement on Tuesday. “This is the conclusion of an intensive and exhaustive police investigation.”
Bild claimed hundreds of asylum-seekers travelled to Frankfurt on New Year’s Eve and massed in the area around Fressgass, an upmarket shopping and nightlife street, after they were turned away from the city centre by police.
The newspaper published interviews with a woman who said she was the victim of a sex assault and a bar owner who said his bar was overrun by some 50 North African men who attacked women.
But the police investigation found that one of those quoted in the report was not even in Frankfurt at the time of the alleged incident.
“Interrogations of witnesses, customers and co-workers gave rise to considerable doubts about the alleged events, to the extent that a person claiming to be affected was not even in the city,” the police statement said.
The witness accounts are so unreliable that prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation over possible false reporting of a crime, the police added.
“The Bild editorial team expressly apologizes for this inaccurate reporting and the accusations against those concerned,” the newspaper said in a statement.
“This reporting does not correspond in any way to the journalistic standards of Bild.”
There were immediate doubts over the claims when several other restaurant and bar owners in the area claimed they had seen nothing out of the ordinary on New Year’s Eve.
One of the witnesses quoted in the Bild report was forced to deny claims he had been politically motivated after other newspapers published details of posts on his Facebook page saying “Merkel must go” and expressing support for far-Right parties.
The allegations were clearly reminiscent of the Cologne sex attacks of New Year’s Eve 2015, in which more than 1,000 women were assaulted in the area around the central station.