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MoD to pay victims of 2014 sexual assaults in Cambridge by Libyan cadets

By Ben Comber

The Ministry of Defence will pay damages
The Ministry of Defence will pay damages

Council leader Lewis Herbert is demanding an apology for all those affected.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) will pay damages to two victims of assault at the hands of trainee Libyan soldiers in Cambridge in 2014.

More than 300 cadets arrived for training at Bassingbourn barracks in Cambridgeshire at a cost of £13.9m to the UK, to try to help stabilise the country after the fall of the military dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The Libyan cadets were sent home before the completion of the scheme following multiple reports of assault and disorder in Bassingbourn and Cambridge.

Two of the Libyans, Moktar Ali Saad Mahmoud and Ibrahim Abugtila, were sentenced to 12 years each for raping and aiding and abetting the rape of a man in his 20s in the city.

An undisclosed settlement was reached out of court for two people who were sexually abused, thought to be in the tens of thousands.

Three other Libyan trainees, Ibrahim 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 and pedalled from the barracks to Cambridge where they assaulted women.

One victim 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.”

City council leader Lewis Herbert has demanded an apology from the MoD for the people of Cambridgeshire who were victims of the Libyan troops.

He said: “The MoD allowed Libyan trainee soldiers into Cambridge unescorted for months and then, after a first wave of assaults, they had to stop the visits only then to fail the following weekend to secure Bassingbourn base the weekend the most shocking attacks occurred.

“My request to the MoD is quite simple. Will you now apologise properly for the first time to all the local people assaulted in Cambridge and to Cambridge and Bassingbourn residents exposed to such a massive uncontrolled risk?

“In their own report into the tragic mess they created, the MoD said ‘we have concluded that little could have been done to avert what happened’. The MoD now has to accept how wrong that conclusion was, take full responsibility for what happened, and ensure it is never repeated in the UK or elsewhere.”


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