The state interior minister said on Friday that he had placed Wolfgang Albers in temporary retirement. The police’s handling of the night’s events has been sharply criticized. The violence outside the main railway station has sparked a debate about Germany’s open door policy on migrants. Gangs of men described as of North African and Arab appearance were reported to be behind the attacks. A large group, numbering around 1,000, had gathered inside and in front of the station in the western city. Victims described chaos as the men carried out dozens of sexual assaults and robberies with little apparent response from the authorities.
Federal authorities say they have identified 18 asylum-seekers among 31 suspects linked to crimes committed in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. Earlier, Mayor Henriette Reker had spoken out against Mr Albers, saying “the relationship of trust with the police leadership” was substantially shaken, according to German media. The police chief has been accused of holding back information about the attacks, in particular about the origin of the suspects.
The interior minister of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Ralf Jaeger, said his decision to remove Mr Albers would not affect the continuing investigation into the events of 31 December.
“People rightly want to know what happened on New Year’s Eve, who the perpetrators are and how such events can be prevented in future,” he said.