A Moroccan man has appeared in court today to become the first person to go on trial over the wave of sex assaults in German cities on New Year’s Eve.
The man, identified only as Toufik M, is alleged to have been among a group of 30 men who molested a woman.
He was identified after a woman recognised his face from the attack when he was interviewed on TV, The BBC reported.
Photographs taken in Dusseldorf today show him making his way into the courtroom covering his face with a jacket.
More than 5 million people in Germany watched the exclusive Spiegel TV report entitled ‘King of the pickpockets’.
In the interview, Taoufik M claimed that he had been forced into a life of crime because of his upbringing and only stole to feed himself.
However, one viewer, a teenager from Cologne, later said it had left her speechless – after she claims she recognised him as the man who had put his hand under her skirt on New Year’s Eve.
Witnesses said the attacks, of which more than 550 were registered with police, saw groups of Arab or North African men surrounding and groping women they had cornered during celebrations.
The majority of the attacks occurred in the city of Cologne, though once news of the mass assaults broke, it emerged similar sex attacks took place across many other European cities.
Cologne police are investigating people from North African countries in connection with the New Years Eve attacks for robbery, theft and trafficking stolen goods.
However, they admit the majority would not be caught due to poor CCTV and victims’ inability to identify their attackers.
Police logs from the night reveal the full horror the women experienced when they were set upon by the out-of-control mob of men on the steps of the city’s historic cathedral.
The notes reveal how women complained they were surrounded by men who tried to put their hands inside their tights and knickers and even insert their fingers in their vaginas.
One woman told police she was surrounded by 20 men of North African appearance before they attacked her, while another said hands were ‘all over her breasts and buttocks’.
Thieves rifled through a woman’s handbag while others distracted her by shoving their hands underneath her clothes.
In an appalling catalogue of complaints, the women who were attacked by up to 2,000 men during a fireworks display in the square by the cathedral in front of Cologne’s train station told how they had mobile phones, bank cards and cash stolen.
After reports that the attacks were carried out by ‘mainly Arabic and North African men’, far-right protesters launched a wave of demonstrations across Europe.
Authorities were intially accused of a cover-up regarding the events, with reports emerging claiming officers were told to remove the word ‘rape’ from reports.
The initial report that the officers discussed read ‘rape, sexual harassment, thefts, committed by a large group of foreign people’.
Officer KHK received a call hours later requesting he delete ‘rape’ at the behest of the state interior ministry. The officer refused.
It was feared that news of the attacks, said to be carried out by migrants, would cause a backlash among far right groups.