30 Jan 2016

A 13-year-old girl from a Russian-speaking community in Berlin was not kidnapped and sexually assaulted by immigrant men as previously reported, but simply spent the night with an acquaintance.

Russia's foreign minister has poured oil on a firestorm surrounding the alleged kidnapping and rape of a Russian-speaking teenager by asylum seekers in Berlin, charging that there's been a cover-up by German officials who say the crime never took place.
Members of Germany's Russian-speaking community and right-wing activists took to the streets of German cities in angry protests over the weekend, following Russian media reports, widely circulated on social media, that a 13-year-old girl had been abducted for 30 hours and gang-raped by Arab men in Berlin earlier this month.
They carried signs reading "We want security" and "Our children are in danger."
The Berlin prosecutor's office says the incident did not occur as the Russian reports and protesters claim.

No kidnapping, says prosecutor

    A representative for the prosecutor's office said that the Russian-speaking girl had been reported as missing by her family when she disappeared on January 11.
    When she returned, following a 30-hour absence, she claimed to have been kidnapped and raped.
    But a subsequent medical exam found no evidence of rape or sexual intercourse, and the girl changed her story.
    The prosecutor's office said investigators were still not clear where the girl was or what she was doing during her absence. But her answers to their questions led authorities to believe she may have had sex prior to her disappearance, which, due to her age, would be classified as child abuse or statutory rape, the representative said.
    Police and prosecutors were investigating two men as suspects in relation to this, the representative said, but no further details on their identity were available.

    Lavrov: Disappearance 'hushed up'

    Despite German authorities having poured cold water on the accounts circulating on social media, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov waded in to the debate on the case at a news conference in Moscow Tuesday, accusing German officials of covering up the incident.
    "I hope these issues do not get swept under the rug, repeating the situation when a Russian girl's disappearance in Germany was hushed up for a long time for some reason," he said.
    He said Russian officials were communicating with the girl's lawyer, who was working with the girl's family and the Russian Embassy in Germany.
     
    "It is clear that [she] did not exactly decide voluntarily to disappear for 30 hours. Truth and justice must prevail here," said Lavrov.
    He said Russia wished Germany "success in dealing with the enormous problems caused by migrants."
    "I truly hope that these migration problems will not lead to attempts to 'gloss over' reality for political motives -- that would be just wrong," he said.
    "Problems need to be laid out honestly and admitted to the voters, open and clear solutions need to be proposed."
    German government officials hit back at a news conference on Wednesday, accusing the Russian foreign minister of politicizing the case.
    German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said he had full confidence in Berlin police and prosecutors' handling of the case -- but said he could not make the same claim about sections of the Russian media.
    He urged politicians, the media and the girl's family to bear in mind "that this is about a 13-year-old girl, and it surely cannot be in her interest to somehow exploit this politically."

    Concerns over migrant sex crimes

    Sex crimes by migrants have become a hot-button issue in Germany this month as the country reels from a wave of mob sex assaults blamed on migrants on New Year's Eve.
       More than 900 people reported being attacked by men of North African or Arab appearance during New Year's Eve festivities in the city of Cologne, with 523 of them reporting having been sexually assaulted. Similar attacks were reported in other German cities.
    The attacks prompted a wave of criticism of authorities and the media, who were accused of being slow to acknowledge the crime wave had occurred due to a sense of political correctness. Cologne's police chief lost his job over his handling of the episode, and a German broadcaster apologized publicly for their tardy coverage.

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