A 33-year-old Moroccan went on trial in Duesseldorf Monday on allegations he sexually assaulted a woman on New Year’s Eve, one of a string of attacks that night blamed largely on foreigners that fueled a nationwide debate over immigration policies.

 

The defendant, identified only as Toufik M. in line with German privacy rules, is accused of being part of a group of 15-20 men who surrounded the woman and groped her. No pleas are entered under the German system.

 

It is the first sexual assault case related to New Year’s Eve attacks to go to trial, the dpa news agency reported. Most attacks are alleged to have occurred in Cologne, about 50 km (30 miles) south of Duesseldorf.

 

Through the end of March, police in Cologne received 1,527 criminal complaints, with more than 500 victims alleging sexual crimes. Authorities have described the suspects as predominantly Arab and North African men.

 

In Cologne, three people have already been convicted of thefts, and a 26-year-old Algerian was charged last month with groping a woman. No trial date has yet been set for him.

 

 

 

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