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Ministry Of Defence Pays Tens Of Thousands To Victims Sexually Abused By Libyan Cadets

The training exercise cost the UK £13.9 million.

15/10/2016 21:45

Compensation amounting to tens of thousands of pounds has been paid out by the Ministry of Defence to people who were sexually abused by Libyan military cadets brought to the UK for training with the British Army.

More than 300 cadets came to Bassingbourn barracks, Cambridgeshire, for training in a bid to help stabilise Libya after the fall of the military dictator Muammar Gaddafi. 

The exercise in 2014 cost the UK £13.9 million, the Press Association reports.

But many of the cadets left the barracks unescorted during their stay and one weekend several went on the rampage in Cambridge city centre and committed a string of sexual attacks.

Chris Radburn/PA Archive
A general view of Bassingbourn Barracks in Cambridgeshire.

Two are serving 12 years in prison for raping a man. Three others received shorter custodial sentences after they sexually assaulted four teenage girls.

Lawyers representing the rape victim and one of the teenage girls who was sexually assaulted argued their human rights had been breached.

Today it emerged the MoD had agreed to pay damages to the two victims in an out-of-court settlement.

While the sum was not disclosed by lawyers Slater and Gordon, it is believed to be tens of thousands of pounds.

The first claimant was raped at night in Cambridge city centre by Moktar Ali Saad Mahmoud and Ibrahim Abugtila, 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, Naji El Maarfi, Mohammed Abdalsalam and Khaled El Azibi, admitted sexual assaults on four women on the same night and were also jailed.

They had stolen bicycles, pedalled from the barracks to Cambridge and assaulted the women.

The victims were all teenagers and the attacks included trying to kiss a woman without consent and then sexually assaulting her.

One of their 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 from Slater and Gordon 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 arrests of the men coincided with other concerns over the conduct of the Libyan cadets training at the base following a collapse of discipline.

The incidents prompted the Ministry of Defence to send 300 soldiers back to their home country prematurely, ending an agreement to put 2,000 soldiers through basic infantry and junior command training in an attempt to help rebuild the troubled nation.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told Parliament at the time there were “things we could have done better” and admitted regrets over the way it was handled.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “Compensation payments have been made to two people treated appallingly by several Libyan cadets being trained in the UK.

“We have previously expressed regret that there were things we could have done better with this programme.”

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