More than 300 Libyan soldiers training in Britain are sent home early amid allegations of a series of sexual assaults and rapes during their stay.
Libyan recruits prepare to leave their home country for Britain in June 2014. Those shown are not connected to the cases in question
The Ministry of Defence says it will review its programme for supporting the Libyan forces, including whether they should be trained in the UK, after two cadets admitted sexual assault and two more were charged with rape. Another cadet is charged with sexual assault.
The recruits were due to leave at the end of the month but the decision was taken to send them back after Andrew Lansley, in whose South Cambridgeshire constituency they were based, wrote to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) expressing his concerns.
“The majority of recruits have responded positively to the training despite the ongoing political uncertainty in Libya but there have been disciplinary issues,” an MoD spokesman said.
“Training was initially expected to last until the end of November but we have agreed with the Libyan government that it is best for all involved to bring forward the training completion date. The recruits will be returning to Libya in the coming days.
“The UK remains committed to supporting the Libyan government as it works to establish stability and security across the country.”
The spokesman added that the MoD would review how best to train Libyan security forces – including whether further recruits should be trained in the UK.
Libyan cadets Ibrahim Naji El Maarfi, 20, and Mohammed Abdalsalam, 27, appeared at Cambridge magistrates’ court last week and admitted two counts of sexual assault. They are awaiting sentencing.
Khaled El Azibi, 18, has been charged with three counts of sexual assault linked to the same incident but has yet to enter a plea. On Monday night, Moktar Ali Saad Mahmoud, 33, and Ibrahim Abogutila, 22, were charged with rape and are due to appear at Cambridge magistrates’ court on Tuesday.
A Cambridgeshire police spokesman said all of the charges relate to alleged incidents that took place on Sunday 26 October. The force said it had also received nine reports of sexual assaults on 17 October.
The recruits have been based at Bassingbourn barracks in Cambridgeshire since July. Mr Lansley said: “I was supportive of this as a good use of the base, and to contribute further to Libya’s development. So 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.”
He added that he saw no alternative but to terminate the contract, repatriate trainees currently at the base and for no further groups to brought to Britain from Libya.