Two German police officers have been removed from their posts after they failed properly to provide emergency assistance to a woman who was raped by a migrant in Bonn. The lack of attention by the police has added to the perception that German authorities are not taking seriously a rape crisis in which thousands of German women and children have been sexually assaulted since Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed in around two million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The incident occurred shortly after midnight on April 2, when a 23-year-old woman was raped at a campground at the Siegaue nature reserve. When the woman's panic-stricken 26-year-old boyfriend called the police emergency number for help, a female officer answered the phone. The man said: "My girlfriend is being raped by a black man. He has a machete." The policewoman responded: "Are you f**cking with me?" ("Sie wollen mich nicht verarschen, oder?"). The man replied: "No, no." The policewoman responded: "Hmm." After some moments of silence, she promised to dispatch a police car to investigate. She then said, "thank you, bye-bye" and abruptly hung up the phone.
A few minutes later, the boyfriend again called the police emergency number and another officer answered the phone. The man said: "Hello, I just called your colleague." The officer replied: "What is it?" The man: "It's about my girlfriend being raped." The officer: "This is in Siegaue, is not it?" The man: "Exactly." The officer then told the man to call police in Siegburg, a town north of Bonn. "They can coordinate this properly," the officer said before hanging up.
Police finally arrived at the scene about 20 minutes later. Frank Piontek, a spokesman for the Bonn police department, initially defended the police conduct: "Even if police would have handled this differently, nothing could have been done to stop the rape." Facing a wave of public outrage, however, the Bonn police department police announced on May 31 — two months after the rape — that the two officers involved in the case would "never again" be allowed to work at the police emergency control center.
Meanwhile, six days after the rape, police arrested a suspect, a 31-year-old migrant from Ghana named Eric Kwame Andam X., based on DNA evidence. Eric X. was well known to German police: he had previously been arrested five times for a variety of crimes, was never charged and always set free. It later emerged that he had fled Ghana in 2016 after murdering his brother-in-law. After leaving Ghana, Eric X., whose late father was one of the country's top cocoa producers, travelled to Libya. From there he crossed the Mediterranean Sea to reach Italy, where he applied for asylum and spent nine months in a migrant shelter.
In early 2017, Eric X. got on a train in Rome; he arrived in Germany on February 10, 2017 and applied for asylum there. One month later, German officials rejected his asylum application. Eric X. should have been deported on March 17 — two weeks before the rape in Bonn — but an immigration attorney filed a petition on his behalf to appeal the asylum decision, even though EU law clearly stipulates that Eric X. was allowed to apply for asylum in only one EU country, in his case Italy. Local judges were unable to decide the appeal in a timely manner because of an overload of similar cases.
The case of Eric X. and his 23-year-old rape victim has exposed, once again, the systemic failure by German authorities to enforce the law and to ensure public safety: a failure to secure borders; a failure to vet incoming migrants; a failure to prosecute and imprison criminals; a failure to deport failed asylum seekers; and a failure by police to take seriously the migrant rape crisis engulfing Germany.
An annual report — Criminality in the Context of Migration (Kriminalität im Kontext von Zuwanderung) — published by the Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA) on April 27 revealed an increase of nearly 500% in migrant sex crimes (defined as sexual assaults, rapes and sexual abuse of children) during the past four years.
The report showed that migrants (Zuwanderer, defined as asylum seekers, refugees and illegal immigrants) committed 3,404 sex crimes in 2016 — around nine per day. This was a 102% increase over 2015, when migrants committed 1,683 sex crimes — around five per day. By comparison, migrants committed 949 sex crimes in 2014, around three per day; and 599 sex crimes in 2013, around two per day.
According to the report, the main offenders in 2016 were from: Syria (up 318.7% from 2015); Afghanistan (up 259.3%); Iraq (up 222.7%); Pakistan (up 70.3%); Iran (up 329.7%); Algeria (up 100%); and Morocco (up 115.7%).
Germany's migrant sex-crime problem is being exacerbated by its lenient legal system, in which offenders receive relatively light sentences, even for serious crimes. In many instances, individuals who are arrested for sex crimes are released after questioning from police. This practice allows criminal suspects to continue committing crimes with virtual impunity.
In Hamburg, for example, a 29-year-old Afghan asylum seeker sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl while she was asleep in a room at a local hospital. The Afghan had been admitted to the hospital's emergency room due to his advanced state of inebriation. Unattended, the Afghan first wandered into the room of a 29-year-old woman who managed to get him to leave her alone. He then entered the room of the 15-year-old and performed sex acts on her. He was detained and released. Police said there were insufficient grounds to press charges.
Also in Hamburg, a court on June 8 ruled that Ali D., a 29-year-old migrant from Iraq who raped a 13-year-old girl in the city's Jungfernstieg subway station, could not be guilty of the charge of sexual abuse of children (Sexueller Missbrauch von Kindern) because he could not have known that the girl was under 14. According to German law, children are children if they are under 14 years of age. By dropping the charge of sexual abuse of a child, Ali D. faces only a single charge of rape which, in this case, carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison. The court showed leniency because Ali D. — who fled to Hungary after the attack and was extradited to Germany on March 2 — confessed to raping the girl. The court also said that Ali D. had "diminished responsibility" (verminderte Schuldfähigkeit) because he was drunk when he raped his victim.
The same court previously handed suspended sentences to a group of Serbian teenagers who gang-raped a 14-year-old girl and left her for dead in sub-zero temperatures. At the time, the judge said that although "the penalties may seem mild to the public," the teens had all made confessions, appeared remorseful and longer posed a danger to society.
The ruling, which effectively allowed the rapists to walk free, provoked a rare moment of public outrage over the problem of migrant sex crimes in Germany. An online petition calling for the teens to see time in prison has garnered more than 100,000 signatures, and prosecutors said they would appeal the verdict. The court has not yet, however, agreed to retry the case.
In Berlin, a court acquitted a 23-year-old Turkish man of rape because his victim could not prove that she did not give her consent. The court heard how the man shoved the woman's head between the steel bars of the headboard of a bed and repeatedly violated her over a period of more than four hours. The woman cried "stop" and resisted by scratching the accused on the back, but at some point she stopped resisting. The court asked: "Could it be that the defendant thought you were in agreement?" The court said it could not determine whether, from the perspective of Turkish culture, what she thought was rape he might have thought was simply wild sex.
In neighboring Austria, the Supreme Court reduced the sentence of Amir A., a 21-year-old migrant from Iraq, from seven years to four for raping a 10-year-old boy at a public swimming pool in Vienna. During his initial trial, Amir A. confessed to raping the boy. He said it was a "sexual emergency" because he had not had sex for four months. His defense attorney persuaded the Supreme Court that the seven-year sentence was "draconian" and "excessive." Counting time already served, Amir A. will soon be free.
Meanwhile, if opinion polls are any indication, Chancellor Merkel appears not to have to worry about paying a political price for her role in the migration crisis. Indeed, she is just as popular now as she was before the migrant crisis erupted in August 2015.
An ARD-Deutschlandtrend poll published on June 8 found that 64% of Germans are "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with Merkel. If the German chancellor were to be directly elected, 53% (up 4% from previous month) would choose Merkel, while 29% would opt for her Social Democratic challenger, Martin Schulz (down 7% from previous month).
In September 2016, the ARD-Deutschlandtrend poll showed Merkel's popularity rating had plunged to 45%, a five-year low, and down from a high of 67% a year earlier. At the time, more than half (51%) of those surveyed said it would "not be good" if Merkel ran for another term in 2017. The polls seem to show two factors in Merkel's favor: the lack of a political rival strong enough to challenge her; and voters may think she is the least bad candidate to lead the country.