MoD pays thousands of pounds to sex assault victims subjected to ‘terrifying and degrading’ attacks at the hands of Libyan cadets being trained in Britain
- More than 300 of the cadets were brought to Bassingbourn barracks
- They were trained in a bid to help stabilise Libya after Col Gaddafi’s fall
- But their programme was abandoned and the Libyans sent home early
- This was due to a string of sex attacks by the cadets one weekend
A man and woman who suffered ‘terrifying and degrading’ sex attacks at the hands of Libyan military cadets being trained in Britain have been given tens of thousands of pounds in compensation from the Ministry of Defence.
More than 300 of the cadets were brought to Bassingbourn barracks, Cambridgeshire, for training two years ago in a bid to help stabilise the north African state after the fall of dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
But the training programme had to be abandoned and the Libyans sent home early after an outcry over incidents including a string of sex attacks by cadets who left the barracks one weekend and went into Cambridge city centre.
Convicted: Ibrahim Abugtila, 23, left. Rape: Moktar Ali Saad Mahmoud, 33, right
Compensation has now been paid to a man who was raped by two of the Libyans, and one of four teenage girls who were sexually assaulted by three other cadets.
The two victims who brought legal action under the Human Rights Act are understood to have received tens of thousands of pounds each in out-of-court settlements. The exact sums have not been revealed.
One of the victims said: ‘I was subjected to a degrading attack by these men that has traumatised me. I just hope that lessons are learned from what happened and nothing like this happens again.’
Kim Harrison, a human rights lawyer who represented both victims, said: ‘Our clients were subjected to terrifying and degrading attacks but they are determined to rebuild their lives.
‘Hopefully, now the Ministry of Defence has settled this case, they will both be one step closer to getting some closure over these unimaginably traumatic events.’
The male claimant was raped at night in Cambridge city centre by Moktar Ali Saad Mahmoud, 33, and Ibrahim Abugtila, 23, who were jailed in May 2015. The defendants had denied attacking the man but were caught on CCTV leading him to a park.
They were convicted by a jury at Cambridge Crown Court, which heard they had ‘behaved like two hunting dogs who had seen a wounded animal’. Three others admitted sexual assaults on four women on the same night in October 2014 and were also jailed. Khaled El Azibi, Naji El Maarfi and Mohammed Abdalsalam, were aged 19, 21 and 27 respectively when they stole bicycles and rode into Cambridge. During a chaotic hour beginning at 10.30pm they approached one victim outside a pub and fondled her breasts and bottom.
El Maarfi also exposed himself and tried to kiss her before a pub manager confronted them.
They touched another woman’s bottom before finding two more victims. El Maarfi put his hand on the leg of one of the friends and tried to lift her skirt. When she objected, Abdalsalam committed a similar assault.
She called out to her friend for help but the other woman was being attacked by El Azibi. He was given a 12-month jail term in May and the other men were handed 10-month sentences at Cambridge Crown Court.
More than 300 of the cadets were brought to Bassingbourn barracks, Cambridgeshire, for training two years ago
The three men have since been released and made claims for asylum in the UK. A decision on their applications is not yet believed to have been made and the men are being held in secure immigration units.
Lawyers for their victims said the attackers’ asylum applications were ‘completely wrong and unacceptable’ in the light of their offending.
The arrests of the cadets coincided with complaints of drunkenness, violence, going AWOL and theft, especially of bicycles from a nearby village, by the cadets.
The incidents prompted the Ministry of Defence to send 300 soldiers back to their home country prematurely in November 2014.
Defence chiefs asked the Libyan government to pay for £472,000 of repairs to MoD property.
The Libyan training exercise in 2014 cost the UK £13.9 million.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told Parliament at the time there were ‘things we could have done better’.
An MoD spokesman said: ‘Compensation payments have been made to two people treated appallingly by several Libyan cadets being trained in the UK’.
[Look familiar? This is the kind of photos the cadets took of themselves in Britain to post on facebook]