BERLIN – German public broadcaster ZDF has apologised for delays in reporting on a wave of sexual assaults blamed on men of Arab appearance amid accusations Wednesday of media self-censorship of the inflammatory issue.
The rash of attacks and thefts in a New Year’s Eve crowd in the western city of Cologne was only widely covered by national media early this week, after police had initially reported no major incidents.
News editors of ZDF’s flagship “heute” (today) evening news programme apologised on social media for not reporting on the incidents at least in its Monday evening bulletin, four days after the attacks.
“The news situation was clear enough. It was a mistake of the 7pm ‘heute’ show not to at least report the incidents,” wrote deputy chief editor Elmar Thevessen on the show’s Facebook page.
The number of criminal complaints in Cologne topped 100 by Wednesday.
On social media, furious commentators have blamed the attacks on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government and its welcome to asylum seekers, 1.1 million of whom arrived last year.