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Inquiry committee hears first testimony of Cologne New Year's Eve attacks

There was no safety plan put in place for New Year's Eve celebrations, said a Cologne city employee. The witness' statement contrasts officials' statements, including the state interior minister.

A state parliamentary inquiry into events that transpired in Cologne during New Year's Eve celebrations on Monday began hearing testimonies from witnesses.

According to the first witness, authorities did not have a safety plan put in place for the New Year's Eve celebrations, marking a stark contrast to state officials' statements.

The witness was reported to be an employee involved with the Cologne Office of Planning and Ordnance's preparations for the New Year's Eve celebrations.

Who to blame?

In January, North-Rhine Westphalia Interior Minister Ralf Jäger distanced himself from the police response by putting the blame on officers stationed at the train station, saying it was their fault for not responding to the reports despite the fact that "reinforcements" were available.

"The way that the Cologne police acted on the night of New Year's Eve is just not acceptable," Jäger said.

Additional manpower was at hand though the police officers did not call in the "desperately needed reinforcements for the unexpected developments," the state interior minister added.

More than 1,000 reports were filed with the police in relation to the events that transpired at the train station on New Year's Eve. At least 471 of them were considered sexual in nature.

Ongoing inquiry

The North-Rhine Westphalia parliamentary committee aims to clarify why police at Cologne's central station were unable to respond to a crowd of men reportedly of North African descent, who were accused of sexually assaulting and robbing women at the station.

The inquiry committee also hopes to clarify whether there was a security plan in place to respond to unexpected events, and who was responsible for its lack of implementation.

The head of Cologne police's press office will also be questioned after a press release on January 1 said the celebrations near the central station had been "laid-back."

Watch video 03:32

Germany: North Africans under pressure | DW

ls/jil (dpa, AFP, WDR)

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