Calls for MOD to get house in order after disgraced Libyan soldiers based at Bassingbourn Barracks are jailed

Bassingbourn Barracks

Bassingbourn Barracks - Credit: Archant

A villager has spoken out against the way sexual assaults committed by Libyan soldiers staying at Bassingbourn Barracks were handled by authorities – and called on the government to make sure the community is kept in the loop about any future plans for the site.

Patsy Moore says the onus is on the Ministry of Defence to put its house in order.

She told the Crow: “Someone in the MOD should be held to account for the fiasco.

“The authorities should do the right thing from now on and speak to locals about any proposals they have for the barracks.

“It will be a long time before anyone trusts them again.”

Patsy said she felt scared for weeks after she heard about the assaults.

She said: “I must admit – tough as I am – that I was worried and listening for every unusual noise for all the following weeks until they were shipped out.”

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Five Libyan soldiers have now been jailed for a string of attacks carried out during the same night in Cambridge in October.

Two, Mukhtar Ali Saad Mahmoud, 33, and 22-year-old Ibrahim Abugtila, were sentenced to 12 years each after being convicted of raping a man in a city centre park.

In a separate incident, three others – Khaled El Azibi, 19, Ibrahim Naji El Maarfi, aged 21, and Mohammed Abdalsalam, 27, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting women.

In one incident shortly before 2am El Maarfi sexually assaulted two victims, aged 18 and 19.

About six hours later all three men attacked an 18-year-old woman in Corn Exchange Street.

El Maarfi tried unsuccessfully to kiss their victim who was then sexually assaulted twice by both El Azibi and Abdalsalam. El Maarfi also indecently exposed himself.

Norwich Crown Court sentenced El Azibi to 12 months in prison while El Maarfi and Abdalsalam were each sentenced to 10 months.

Patsy added: “I’m so appalled at what happened to the victims, particularly the young man – I’m sure that will be with him for the rest of his life. None of the sentences were long enough.”

The leader of Cambridge City Council echoes Patsy’s call for the MOD to take steps to make sure history will not repeat itself.

Lewis Herbert said: “It’s been such a horrid and avoidable series of events.

“While Bassingbourn experienced minor incidents and considerable anxiety, the village and local area were so lucky not to have something far more serious happen, as sadly occurred in Cambridge.

“The assurance that no such deployment will occur again at Bassingbourn is welcome, but it isn’t enough.

“We are writing to the secretary of state for defence Michael Fallon asking for his assurance that no part of the UK will ever be put at risk again, like Cambridgeshire was.

“Like Bassingbourn, Cambridge and Cambridgeshire councillors also want the future of the barracks resolved.

“After what has happened, the least the area deserves is a clear plan from the Ministry of Defence to give the barracks a new lease of life training UK troops.”