Status: 21.09.2023, 10:00 a.m.
By: Johanna Werning
In Cologne, a 13-year-old is said to have been abused by eight men. The suspects are not from Germany. Deportation demands are being raised. But it's not that simple.
Cologne – The act is shocking: In Cologne, a 13-year-old girl is said to have been abused by eight men in a swimming pool on Sunday. The suspects were identified by the police in Agrippabad. The men are between 16 and 26 years old and come from Syria, Iraq and Turkey.
Men are said to have abused girls in swimming pool: politician calls for deportation
In Cologne, eight men are said to have abused a girl. Now there are demands to deport the perpetrators. But that's not so easy (symbolic image). © Rolf Poss/Imago
"I am very saddened by the news of the possible sexual harassment of a child in a swimming pool in Cologne," said Cologne's mayor Henriette Reker. "I very much hope and have full confidence that the Cologne police will quickly clarify the circumstances and that the alleged perpetrators will be held accountable."
Gregor Golland, member of the NRW state parliament and deputy chairman of the CDU state parliamentary group, demands on X (formerly Twitter): "The response of the rule of law must be a quick, tangible conviction and immediate deportation to the home countries. Unregulated immigration, especially of young men, overwhelms our country. We need to better protect women and children in particular."
Is such a demand for "immediate deportation" realistic? Zaza Koschuashvili is a lawyer in Cologne and advises many clients on immigration and asylum law. His answer to 24RHEIN: Although "foreigners who have committed serious crimes in Germany can indeed be deported and deported, this is not so easy". Because: "In such cases, it can take years. Such procedures are complicated. I have never heard that there is a conviction and then a direct deportation."
That is why deportation proceedings after criminal offences can take several years
First of all, there must be a final conviction of the offenders. In any case, this is a prerequisite "so that the expulsion can be issued and deportation can be carried out." And the investigation and the subsequent trial, including the verdict, take a certain amount of time, according to Koshuashvili.
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And that is only the first step: After a final judgment, a deportation procedure can be initiated, but even that can take a long time, explains the lawyer. This is because only when the decision of the competent authority on deportation is legally binding can there be an obligation to leave the country, i.e. the order of the Foreigners' Registration Office to leave the federal territory.
How does a deportation procedure for criminal offences work?
► It makes a decisive difference whether the convicted criminals are refugees or foreigners with residence permits, explains Cologne-based lawyer Zaza Koschuashvili. Because then different authorities are responsible and different procedures are necessary.
► In the case of refugees, the asylum procedure must be completed negatively or the recognised refugee status must be revoked by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. As a result, a so-called obligation to leave the country is issued. This is the order of the Foreigners' Registration Office to leave the federal territory. Both must be legally binding, because in both cases an appeal can be lodged against the decision of the authority.
► In the case of a foreigner with toleration and residence status, an obligation to leave the country is also the basis for deportation. The so-called expulsion procedure can be initiated by the Foreigners' Registration Office.
►In both cases, the procedures are complex and time-consuming. For example, the authority must listen to the person concerned and check the status in detail.
Abuse case in Cologne: "We still assume a sexual offense"
And what about the specific case of the Cologne suspects? Important: So far, these are only suspects. Whether the eight men actually committed the crime has not been proven. So far, the 16- to 26-year-olds have remained silent on the allegations. "The interrogations are ongoing," a police spokesman said on Thursday. "We are still assuming a sexual offense." The next steps:
- If the investigation is completed and the prosecutor's office believes that a crime has been committed, the prosecutor's office can bring charges.
- The court then decides in the so-called interlocutory proceedings whether to open main proceedings.
- Only then does it come to the actual process, the main procedure. It is then a matter of finding the truth: witnesses, defendants and experts are heard. In the end, a verdict can finally be pronounced.
- Only if no appeals against the judgment are lodged after the expiry of a period of time (e.g. an appeal or revision) is the judgment final. Otherwise, the case will continue in the next instance, i.e. at the Regional Court or the Higher Regional Court, depending on the case.
Even if the suspects were convicted, this does not mean that they will be deported directly and automatically. In the case of a prison sentence, for example, the following applies: "As a rule, the sentences must first be served – at least half," explains Koshuashvili. Often only afterwards do the authorities initiate the deportation procedure.
There will be no "quick and immediate" deportation
As a basis for such a procedure, there would then be a "particularly serious interest in expulsion", explains the lawyer. This is the case if persons have been sentenced to imprisonment or a juvenile sentence of at least two years for one or more intentional criminal offences or if there are "offences against sexual self-determination".
In the further course, a deportation procedure would then be initiated by the respective authority. However, it can take weeks, months or even years before the actual obligation to leave the country occurs. This then depends on individual factors such as country of origin, residence status and possible appeal, the Cologne lawyer continues. In any case, a "quick and immediate deportation" is not so easy to implement, Koshuashvili emphasizes. (jw)