British victims of Libyan soldier sexual attacks receive compensation

British victims of Libyan soldier sexual attacks receive compensation
3 min read
15 October, 2016
Two victims of a wave of sexual assaults by Libyan soldiers in the UK for training have received compensation from the defence ministry, but lawyers argue more must be done.
Cambridge witnessed several sexual assaults by Libyan troops in 2014 [Getty]

Victims of a string of sexual assaults committed by Libyan soldiers in Cambridge have received compensation from the UK's ministry of defence, lawyers announced on Saturday.

One man was raped by two soldiers in Cambridge, while four teenage girls were sexually assaulted by three cadets, courts heard.

The events happened in 2014 when Libyan cadets went for training at Bassingbourn barracks in Cambridgeshire.

The male victim and one of the teenagers have received compensation - believed to be in the range of tens of thousands of British pounds - from the ministry of defence, a lawyer told the BBC.

Kim Harrison, a lawyer for two of the victims, said the ministry should still do more to help the victims of the assaults, and hold those in charge of security at the base accountable for the attacks. 

"I think there are still a lot of unanswered questions that the ministry of defence need to answer, not just to my clients who've been through an appalling ordeal but for the wider community who were terrified at the time," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Harrison said there were several incidents leading up to the rapes, which should have caused the ministry to take action. Locals had complained about alleged sexual assaults and vandalism in the weeks leading up to the attacks.

She told the BBC that although the ministry did try to tighten security it wasn't enough the only solution to prevent the incidents from taking place was a complete lock down of the baracks and cancelling the training programme for Libyan cadets.

The attackers were among 300 Libyan cadets sent to the UK at the time. The UK planned to train 2,000 soldiers at British army camps at a cost of nearly $17 million before the programme was cancelled.

The attacks took place in Cambridge city centre before the training scheme was brought to a premature end.

Moktar Ali Saad Mahmoud and Ibrahim Abugtila were convicted of rape and sentenced to serve 12 years in jail.

"Compensation payments have been made to two people treated appallingly by several Libyan cadets being trained in the UK," a ministry of defence spokesperson told the BBC.

"We have previously expressed regret that there were things we could have done better with this programme."

But Harrison said the fact that the ministry did not admit liability for the attacks, had caused further distress to victims.

The UK was part of an international coalition - led by France and the US - which provided air support for Libyan rebels who eventually overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

However, the immediate success of the revolution was met with disappointment, as the country fragmented into warring factions.

Two rival governments and a slew of militia groups – including the Islamic State group - have been fighting for control of Libya since 2011, with no end to the violence in sight.