Italian police investigate New Year’s Eve sex attacks on at least nine women in Milan similar to infamous Cologne NYE assaults: Raids are carried out after 18 suspects are identified
- The attacks occurred as people were celebrating in Milan’s Piazza del Duomo
- Police said they had identified 15 young men and three boys, aged 15 to 21
- They were the targets of Tuesday’s raids in the northern cities of Milan and Turin
- At least nine women were the victims of the assaults in three different incidents
- The attacks are reminiscent of 2016 Cologne attacks which saw 1,200 victims
Italian police investigating New Year’s Eve sex attacks on at least nine women in Milan have carried out raids today after 18 suspects were identified.
The attacks, reminiscent to the infamous New Year’s Eve assaults in Cologne in 2016, occurred as people were celebrating in Milan’s Piazza del Duomo.
Police said they had identified 15 young men and three boys, aged 15 to 21, who were the targets of today’s raids in the northern cities of Milan and Turin. The suspects were described as foreigners or Italians of North-African origin.
Italian police investigating New Year’s Eve sex attacks on at least nine women in Milan have carried out raids today after 18 suspects were identified. Pictured: People light flares as they celebrate New Year’s Eve in Milan’s Piazza del Duomo square, December 31, 2021
‘The young men who sexually assaulted girls in Piazza Duomo in Milan on New Year’s Eve have been identified,’ said Milan police in a statement.
Through surveillance images, witness testimony and social media tracking, police were able to piece together ‘three different episodes of violence’ committed against nine young women that night, they said.
Police and prosecutors have said they were aware of three attacks on New Year’s Eve in Milan’s central square.
In one incident, a 19-year-old woman who was celebrating the beginning of 2022 with a friend was assaulted by a group of youths at around 01:30.
Her friend was able to escape the gang, but the teenager was attacked for more than a minute before she was helped.
Among other victims were two 20-year-old German tourists, according to Italian news agency ANSA, who were pushed by against barrier and sexually assaulted.
Italian Carabinieri officers in riot gear keep watch during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Piazza del Duomo square (or Cathedral Square) in Milan, northern Italy, 31 December 2021
‘I realised they were touching me and we wanted to escape but there were too many of them,’ one of the victims told ANSA in a January 7 news story.
‘We tried to push them back, my friend hit and slapped them but they were laughing and they continued to assault us. I had 15 hands on me.’
She said her friend fell and she suddenly felt hands groping her, she said. Footage of the attack has emerged showing them trying to escape.
The young German complained that while police were on duty, they did little to help and did not understand when they tried to explain what happened in English.
Another girl was separately attacked in streets close to the piazza, the BBC said.
Among various videos published by local media, one shows a group of men surrounding two young women who are pressed against a police barricade.
New Year’s Eve celebrations in Piazza del Duomo square (or Cathedral Square) in Milan, northern Italy, 31 December 2021
Pictured: Crowds of people gather outside Cologne Main Station in Cologne on 31 December 2015 – on a night when around 1,200 women were raped, sexually assaulted or robbed
They are seen trying to shove the men away before they extricate themselves from the crowd and run toward police in riot gear at the edge of the plaza.
The incident has led news headlines for days and has fed into concerns about violence against women in Italy, where newspapers report the deaths of one or two women almost every week, usually at the hands of their current or former partner.
‘I hope that justice will be done and that they will soon find those who attacked us’ one of the victims told ANSA.
The scenes in Milan on New Year’s Eve have been likened to those seen in Cologne, Germany in 2016 when some 1,000 people – mainly of North African origin – carried out a series of rapes, sexual assaults and robberies.
Police in the city were also accused of failing to respond to the attacks against around 1,200 women, with officials later speculating the attacks were organised.
Then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the attacks as ‘abominable’.
By November 2016, around 200 suspects had been identified nationwide.
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