Police in Sweden today are facing allegations of covering up “a large number” of sexual assaults that occurred during a five-day festival in Stockholm because the suspects detained were asylum seekers.
Stockholm police spokesman Varg Gyllander told the Associated Press on Monday that police should have reported the assaults at the time “given the nature of the crime.” He denied claims that the reason for the cover up was that the suspects were refugees.
This follows widespread criticism of police in Germany for not immediately reporting the massive amounts of sexual assaults that have occurred in that country, especially on New Year’s Eve, by asylum-seekers.
On Sunday, German police said the number of violent attacks in Cologne on New Year’s Eve has risen above 500.
According to The Independent, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the authorities needed to work quickly to determine if the violence in Cologne was linked to incidents reported in other cities.
Cologne’s police chief was fired in the wake of the scandal after up to 1,000 men accosted and sexually abused women in “coordinated” attacks, which included rapes, in a city square.
According to the police, 516 criminal complaints have been filed since New Year’s Eve. About 40 percent of the complaints involved allegations of sexual offenses.
So far, 31 arrests have been made and 18 of the suspects were asylum seekers.
“If such a horde gathers in order to commit crimes, which appears in some form to be planned. Nobody can tell me that this was not coordinated or prepared,” Maas said.
Hamburg police are also investigating sexual assaults and thefts that occurred in the St. Pauli district because they are similar to the assaults that occurred in Cologne.
On Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a proposal that will make it easier to deport refugees and migrants who commit crimes.
In Sweden, at least 15 women reported being groped by groups of men on New Year’s Eve in the city of Kalmar.
On Friday, Johan Bruun, the Kalmar police spokesman, said groups of men surrounded women on a crowded square and groped them. Bruun added that while there were no reported injuries, the victims were terrified.
According to Bruun, the two suspects the police arrested are asylum seekers.
Authorities in Finland said they also had reports of widespread sexual harassment on New Year’s Eve.
In an interview, Ilkka Koskimaki, the deputy chief of police in Helsinki, said, “We have never before had this kind of sexual harassment happening at New Year’s Eve.”
Koskimaki said three Iraqi asylum seekers were arrested for committing sexual assaults during the celebrations in the city’s Senate Square.