Two Libyan army cadets have each been jailed in the UK for 12 years for male rape while three others were given sentences of between ten months and a year for sexual assault.
All the crimes were carried out last October in the university town of Cambridge, not far from the British Army camp at Bassingbourn where 300 Libyan cadets had arrived for training that June.
The court was told that the cadets had gone on a drunken rampage in which two of them, Moktar Ali Saad Mahmoud, 33, and Ibrahim Abugtila, 23, had chased a man, “like hunting dogs” and raped him in a park. Three of their fellow cadets, Ibrahim El Maarfi, Mohammed Abdalsalam and Khaled El Azibi had admitted sexually assaulting four different women during the same evening.
The men were part of the first contingent of 2,000 Libyan soldiers to whom the UK had agreed to give six month basic training. Similar courses were conducted by the Italians while Turkey took a batch of police cadets for training outside Istanbul.
Sources close to the UK programme said that unlike the Italians, the British conducted minimal pre-selection of candidates before they left Libya for Bassingbourn. From the start, there were discipline issues among the cadets, who on one occasion raided the guardhouse to free a comrade who had been detained for leaving the barracks without permission.
Before October’s crimes in Cambridge, a number of the cadets had already been sent home. As a result of the sex attacks, the British government abandoned the training programme and all the cadets were sent home last November.
The five men convicted today will all be deported back to Libya when they have served their sentences.