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Libyan troops training at Bassingbourn barracks to be sent home early after Cambridge sex attacks, MoD confirms

More than 300 Libyan Army cadets stationed at Bassingbourn barracks will be sent home early after two of them admitted sexually assaulting women in Cambridge.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that the troops, who were due to train at Bassingbourn until the end of November, will go home in the next few days.

Further troops were due to train at Bassingbourn - but that will now be reviewed, the MoD said.

The decisions came as two other Libyan troops were charged with the rape of a man in Cambridge, and follows pressure on the MoD from South Cambridgeshire's Conservative MP, Andrew Lansley.

In a statement, the MoD 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.

"And as part of our ongoing support for the Libyan government, we will review how best to train Libyan security forces - including whether training further tranches of recruits in the UK is the best way forward."

The MoD also admitted there had been "disciplinary issues" within the barracks since the training started.

In August, several soldiers were reprimanded after scaling the fence to buy alcohol.

The majority of recruits have responded positively to the training despite the ongoing political uncertainty in Libya but there have been disciplinary issues.

A spokesman for the MoD added: "The UK remains committed to supporting the Libyan government as it works to establish stability and security across the country."

Mr Lansley, who initially backed the training programme, had earlier called on the MoD to act.

He said: "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.

"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. 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."

Troops accused of sex attacks in Cambridge are due in court today.

Khaled El Azibi, 18, is charged with three sexual assaults and theft of a bicycle and did not enter a plea when he first appeared in court.

Ibrahim Naji El Maarfi, 20, admitted two sexual assaults in Cambridge's market square, indecent exposure and stealing a bike.

Mohammed Abdalsalam, 27, also admitted two sexual assaults in market square, plus an offence of threatening behaviour towards a police officer and theft of a bike.

These three men will appear at Cambridge Crown Court.

Moktar Ali Saad Mahmoud, 33, and Ibrahim Abogutila, 22, have been charged with rape on a man in his 20s on Christ's Pieces, Cambridge, on October 26. Both men, of Old North Road, Bassingbourn, are due to appear at Cambridge Magistrates' Court today.

[Source: By Cambridge New, Cambridge, 05Nov14]

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