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Attacked in the crowd New Year’s Eve assaults trigger investigations

Many thousands turn out on Zurich's streets to welcome in the New Year

(Keystone/Eddy Risch)

The Zurich prosecutor’s office has begun investigating 11 cases of alleged sexual harassment and assault that took place in Zurich on New Year’s Eve. 

Around two dozen thefts were initially reported to police, said to have taken place in the area around Lake Zurich on December 31, 2015. As the complaints were being investigated, it turned out that a number of them contained a sexual element. The women involved said they were robbed and groped or molested through their clothes. Information on the incidents was released by police at the start of January. 

The cantonal prosecutor in the case, Daniel Kloiber, told that after 25 years in the job he could not recall such a high number of sexual assaults involving groups of men on New Year’s Eve. 

“This is something new we have never had,” he said. He confirmed that although there had been reports of muggings the previous year, there had been no reports of sexual assaults. 

The women allege that they were approached in the crowd by several men with “dark skin”. The allegations follow similar lines to events in Germany, where 497 women lodged complaints about sexual assaults. The complaints were made after New Year’s celebrations in Cologne, where the suspects were described as being of “Arab or North African” appearance. 

The women in Zurich are aged between 14 and 27 and were part of a 120,000-strong crowd of revellers who turned out in the city to celebrate the New Year. 

Investigations into the incidents are ongoing.

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