Libyan soldiers charged in connection with sexual assault

TCS News Team 28 October 2014

Three Libyan soldiers based at Bassingbourn barracks have been charged by Cambridgeshire police in connection with the sexual assaults of three women in Cambridge.

This comes after a number of attacks in Cambridge in recent days.10 attacks have taken place in the past nine days.

The incidents took place on Sunday in Market Square at around 10:30pm, and involved one female on her own and two together.

Two of the men, Khaled El Azibi, 18 and Ibrahim Naji El Maarfi, 20 from Old North Road, Bassingbourn, have been charged with two counts of sexual assault, whilst Mohammed Abdalsalam, 27, also from Old North Road, Bassingbourn has been charged with a single count.

The men are expected to appear before magistrates in Cambridge later today.

Up to 2,000 Libyan troops are expected to be trained at Bassingbourn in separate groups over a 15-month period. The soldiers are currently being trained by the 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, and are based at Bassingbourn Barracks for 24 weeks.

Back in August, Cambridge News reported that a group of Libyan soldiers based at the barracks had been reprimanded by the Ministry of Defence for leaving without permission in breach of Home Office restrictions. The troops have to remain in the compound unless they are accompanied. They had been spotted walking round the village near the barracks, and had been warned by the Ministry of Defence that their visas might be revoked if they continued to flout regulations.

When contacted by The Cambridge Student for comment about yesterday’s arrests, a spokesperson for the Army said: “We can confirm that three Libyan soldiers undergoing training at Bassingbourn Camp have been charged with offences relating to incidents in Cambridge. This is a matter for the civilian police and it would not be appropriate to comment any further at this stage.

“We have a close working relationship with the Cambridgeshire Police and will continue to assist them in any enquiries”.

In a press release, Det. Insp. Sarah Smith of the Cambridgeshire Constabulary said: "I would urge anyone who has any information about this incident or the men responsible to contact police. We are treating this extremely seriously and have a team of officers working on the case.

"As a precaution patrols have been increased in the city centre.”

On whether this investigation is connected with the other assaults, a Cambridgeshire constabulary spokesperson told TCS, “No we haven’t ruled it out but we are not confirming it either, we are still investigating these assaults.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the following support services are available.

Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre: 01223 245888

Linkline: 01223 744444

Samaritans: 08457 909090