Ministry of Defence criticised after disciplinary failures see Libyan troops sent home early from Bassingbourn Barracks
PUBLISHED: 08:31 06 November 2014 | UPDATED: 09:16 06 November 2014
A parish council chairman has criticised the ‘unprofessional’ behaviour of the Ministry of Defence after disciplinary failures saw around 300 Libyan troops sent home early from Bassingbourn Barracks.
The decision comes in the wake of two Libyan cadets pleading guilty to the sexual assault of women in Cambridge last week.
Two others training at the Old North Road barracks have been remanded in custody after being charged with the rape of a man in the Christ Pieces area of the city on Sunday, October 26.
Libyan troops arrived at the Old North Road barracks in June for a 24-week course of basic infantry and junior command skills which was due to finish in late November.
Bassingbourn Parish Council chairman Peter Robinson said: “The residents of Bassingbourn cum Kneesworth are very happy with the decision to return the Libyan troops home. The MoD has behaved in a very unprofessional and deceitful manner by allowing trainees to leave the barracks unescorted, after telling the people of Bassingbourn that this would not be the case.
“We all now look forward to normalised relations with the barracks, the return of the use of facilities like the ski club and mostly, feeling safe in our village again following a very stressful and worrying time.”
County councillor Adrian Dent, who represents the Bassingbourn ward, said: “Everyone said there would be issues, but in terms of the extent of the issues, nobody envisaged that the fallout and problems for the barracks would be this appalling.
“The troops are going home now and I am glad that sense has prevailed. But I am saddened that the eventual decision had to be made.
“There is a problem with security at Bassingbourn. The training should be done in a remote area, not a populated one. In America they do their training with Libyan troops in Romania.”
A spokesman for 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.
“The majority of recruits have responded positively to the training despite the ongoing political uncertainty in Libya but there have been disciplinary issues.
“The UK remains committed to supporting the Libyan government as it works to establish stability and security across the country.
“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.”
Moktar Ali Saad Mahmoud, 33, and Ibrahim Abogutila, 22, were charged with raping a man in Cambridge and were remanded in custody on Tuesday.
While Ibrahim Naji el-Maarfi, 20, and Mohammed Abdalsalam, 27, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault last week. Khaled el-Azibi, 18, has also been charged with three counts of sexual assault, but has yet to enter a plea.