Police identify 12 suspects of New Year’s Eve assaults

New Year celebrations in Piazza Duomo in Milan

 MILAN – Thanks to security camera footage and face-recognition software, police have identified 12 men so far suspected of carrying out sexual assaults on multiple women at New Year’s Eve celebrations in the Lombardy capital, authorities announced Tuesday.

 At least nine women have come forward so far to report various forms of injury, sexual assault and robbery at the crowded celebrations. They report having been treated like "rag dolls" and "objects.”

 The investigators carried out 18 searches (nine in Turin, one in Bergamo, one in Rozzano and the remaining seven in Milan) at the homes of young North Africans and Italians of North African origin between the ages of 15 and 21, all with criminal records. The operation was made possible thanks to security camera video footage, face-recognition software, videos and images from social networks and the internet, and testimonies from witnesses and victims. The number of suspects was narrowed down to 12 as victims recognised their attackers from still images and well as clothing that was found in the searches.

 "I hope justice is done for us and for all the other girls who were harassed that evening,” commented one of the two German students targeted, while the mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala apologised on his behalf and that of the city.

 The investigation is ongoing and the number of suspects may increase, as may the number of victims. So far it seems like there was no preordained plan or a single direction, but that the attackers may have collaborated on the night.