Cologne's chief of police dismissed claims of racial profiling Sunday after officers detained hundreds of North African men in an effort to prevent a repeat of sexual assaults during New Year's festivities in the German city a year ago.
The men had gathered late Saturday at Cologne's main train station and in the Deutz district, across the Rhine river. In an overnight tweet, police had described them as being "seemingly of African descent," prompting online criticism that people were being detained based on their appearance alone.
"I reject this negative criticism," Police Chief Juergen Mathies told reporters. "The clear aim was to prevent similar events to previous year."