Algerian cleared of sexual assault in Cologne crimes trial
An Algerian man who was accused of being part of a group that groped a woman in Cologne on New Year's Eve has been cleared of attempted sexual assault, though he was convicted of handling stolen goods.
The 26-year-old was the first person to go on trial for a sexual offence after the new year events in Cologne that heightened tensions over Germany's migrant influx.
However, the Cologne regional court ruled there was no proof that the man was part of the group of alleged assailants, news agency dpa reported.
More than 1,000 criminal complaints were filed over the crimes in Cologne, with several hundred alleging sexual offences. Several suspects already have been convicted of theft.
The man, whose name has not been released in keeping with German privacy rules, was accused of being in a group of around 10 men who surrounded and groped a woman in the central train station, and of stealing her mobile phone.
He also was charged with attempted theft over a December 13 incident in which he and another man were accused of trying to break into a car.
The woman's mobile phone was found on the man, but he said he had bought it from an acquaintance.
The man was convicted of handling stolen goods and of the attempted car break-in, and was given a six-month suspended sentence.