German minister says deportations will rise after Cologne attacks

A man walks near the main railway station in Cologne, Germany January 12, 2016. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday more foreign criminals would be expelled once new restrictions are rolled out in the wake of sexual attacks on women blamed on migrants in Cologne. Maas and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere outlined plans on Tuesday to speed up the deportation of foreigners who commit physical and sexual assaults, resist police or damage property - crimes which mostly carry probationary sentences but do not trigger expulsion under current law. "There will certainly be more deportation orders as a result of changes to the law because we are lowering the requirements for a deportation," Maas told German television channel ARD. Germany would still not deport people who come from countries where war is raging or where they could face the death penalty or torture, he added. More than 600 women have complained of being attacked on New Years Eve in Cologne and other German cities. The complaints range from sexual molestation to theft and police have said their investigations are focused on illegal migrants from north Africa as well as asylum seekers. The German cabinet still needs to back the proposed deportation plans before a draft law it drawn up to go through the Bundestag lower house of parliament. (Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Andrew Heavens)