New Year’s Eve in Milan: First arrests after attacks

Status: 12.01.2022 6:36 p.m.

At least nine young women were sexually molested and coerced around the central cathedral square in Milan on New Year’s Eve, including two Germans. Two men have now been arrested.

By Elisabeth Pongratz, ARD-Studio Rome

“I noticed that they were touching me and we wanted to flee, but there were too many, we couldn’t leave. My girlfriend fell, they pushed us very aggressively and at some point I felt hands everywhere.” This is what a German student reported to the Italian news agency Ansa.

The 20-year-old came with her friend to the square in front of the Milan Cathedral, which is a popular meeting place for large events. There were also a lot of people there on New Year’s Eve. But the celebration with music and fireworks turns into a horror event for the two students, they are harassed by young men who just want to leave. Nobody helped them, and the police officers standing around didn’t intervene either.

Video shows attacks

There are nightmarish recordings that a video shows from New Year’s Eve. A horde of young men stands around two young women in beige coats, more and more they are pushed against a red and white barricade. The faces of the women are pixelated on Italian television, but their fear and helplessness can literally be felt. Finally they manage to break out of the crowd, they turn to the police, in tears.

With the help of this video, the Milan public prosecutor has now found the alleged perpetrators. On Tuesday, investigators searched several apartments in Milan and Turin, looking for clothes to compare with the recordings. The investigators also rely on other videos, pictures, chats and, above all, on the statements of the victims.

Nine victims are known

The two Germans weren’t the only victims. Just a few meters away, on the corner with Via Mazzini, two friends are surrounded and robbed. And near the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, four girls have been sexually assaulted. A total of nine victims have reported so far. In their investigation, the police had 18 men in their sights, now twelve are suspects.

According to the first evaluations, three should still be minors, the youngest is 15 years old. Two men, aged 18 and 21, have since been arrested in Milan and Turin because they were in acute danger of fleeing. They are accused of serious sexual violence and theft of cell phones and handbags. In the notice of the arrest of the two men, the responsible public prosecutor added that they were two second-generation Italians. Italian media speak of North African origin. The two German victims stated that their tormentors spoke Arabic.

The perpetrators used “precise technology”

The investigations are still in full swing. But in a first statement to Ansa it is said that the pack had a “precise technique”.

The selected victim was initially approached by two under a certain pretext. Immediately afterwards, others with their backs to the victims caused a great stir by shouting. At the same time, they would have formed a “human wall” to hide what was going on. In the end, the investigators found, others surrounded the girl and committed the abuse.

First arrests after New Year’s attacks in Milan

Elisabeth Pongratz, ARD Rome, January 12, 2022 5:50 p.m.

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