Update: MoD pulls Libyan soldiers out of Cambridgeshire

Image credit: jiunn kang too

Libyan soldiers that are currently undergoing training at Bassingbourn Barracks are being sent home early following recent cases of sexual assault in the city centre.

Three Libyan soldiers have been charged with sexual assault following attacks on three women on Sunday 26 October.

The soldiers had been receiving training at the barracks as part of a government programme. The Ministry of Defence will review its policy on training Libyan recruits in the UK in future.

Around 300 soldiers have been at the base since June as part of a wider commitment by the UK government to train up to 2,000 cadets.

On their initial arrival the soldiers were only allowed out of the base as part of escorted trips, but the rules were then relaxed. Restrictions were reinstated again following the sexual assaults.

Andrew Lansley, the MP for South Cambridgeshire had requested that the Ministry of Defence cease their training of the Libyan soldiers.

In a statement released on 3 November, Lansley confirmed that he had supported plans for the programme last year: “At the time of our commitment – along with other G8 states – to support Libya and to help train the Libyan troops, I was supportive of this as a good use of the base, and to contribute further to Libya’s development.”

However, recent events have altered his view.

“It is with regret that I must now say that it has not worked as we had hoped. It is clear that the stipulation that there was to be no unauthorised exit from the base has not been adhered to, and the consequences have been unacceptable. The purpose has not met its’ objectives, nor have MoD lived up to the promises made to us.

“As I have today expressed to MoD, I now see no alternative but to terminate the contract and repatriate the trainees currently on the base. As this stands, no further groups of trainees could be brought here from Libya.”

Ibrahim Naji El Maarfi, 20, and Mohammed Abdalsalam, 27, have pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault. 

They are to be sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court. 

Khaled El Azibi, 18, has been charged with three counts of sexual assault and one count of indecent exposure. He did not enter a plea and will next appear in court on 4 November.

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