Cambridgeshire

Bassingbourn Libyan soldiers jailed for Cambridge man's rape

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Media captionMoktar Ali Saad Mahmoud, 33, and Ibrahim Abugtila, 23, were jailed for 12 years - Jo Black reports from outside Cambridge Crown Court

Two Libyan cadets have been jailed for 12 years each for raping a man in Cambridge.

Moktar Ali Saad Mahmoud, 33, and Ibrahim Abugtila, 23, were stationed at Bassingbourn Barracks in Cambridgeshire when they attacked the man in October.

They both denied rape and aiding and abetting rape but were found guilty after a trial at Cambridge Crown Court.

The victim, aged in his 20s, described the pair as "horrendous" and "not human".

The attacks lasted for up to 38 minutes, during which the defendants took it in turns to rape the man in city centre park Christ's Pieces.

Prosecutor John Farmer told the court the pair met their victim - who was a "complete stranger" - in the early hours of 26 October.

Image copyright Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption The pair were spotted on CCTV prior to the rape harassing women in Cambridge city centre
Image copyright Cambs Police
Image caption They were captured again by cameras following the attack in Christ's Pieces

The victim had just left a wedding party after drinking "formidable" amounts of alcohol and was captured on CCTV being led to the park.

Mr Farmer said: "He was in no fit state one way or another to consent.

"They behaved like two hunting dogs who had seen a wounded animal.

"They effectively took him over and, initially not using too much force and later more forcefully, kept him going in the direction they wanted him to go."

'Truly horrendous'

Once at the park, each of the defendants raped the man while the other held him down, the jury was told.

Mr Farmer said the defendants accepted they had sex with the man, but said he consented.

Image caption The Ministry of Defence said cadets would not be allowed off the base unescorted, but rules were later relaxed

The court heard the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told officers: "I cannot believe what I'm saying, they raped me. It was horrible, I feel horrible. Don't say anything to my mum."

In a later interview, he said "three Arab guys" raped him.

Describing them as "animals", he said: "I was trying my hardest and they were like overpowering me.

"They were horrendous, they weren't human. They don't deserve to live, they shouldn't be alive."

Speaking after the men were sentenced Det Insp Alan Page, of Cambridgeshire Police, said: "These men deliberately targeted their victim because of his vulnerability that night, which they took advantage of to commit this callous crime."

Image copyright Terry Harris
Image caption Troops were sent home early after the sex attacks came to light

The defendants were two of more than 300 trainees who arrived at Bassingbourn last June.

Up to 2,000 soldiers had been due to undergo basic infantry and junior command training at the barracks under an agreement reached at the 2013 G8 summit.

But, the behaviour in Cambridge and Bassingbourn of the defendants and other cadets led the training to be scrapped last November.

The scheme was intended to support the Libyan government's efforts to improve the security and stability of the country, following the collapse of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime in 2011.

Former South Cambridgeshire MP Andrew Lansley, who was in office when the attacks took place, told the BBC "mistakes had been made" with the Libyans training in Bassingbourn and he hoped the sentencing would provide some "redress".

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Media captionFormer South Cambridgeshire MP Andrew Lansley said "discipline inside the base really fell apart"

Cambridge City Council leader Lewis Herbert, said the defence secretary should issue a "public apology" for what happened and the Ministry of Defence should give a "clear promise" it will not repeat such "multiple, catastrophic errors".

A Ministry of Defence [MoD] spokesman said it "condemned" the incidents and had made clear the training "will not be repeated at Bassingbourn".

Image caption The MoD said the training "will not be repeated at Bassingbourn"

"Following the conclusion of the training the prime minister tasked the MoD with producing a report on the programme and the defence secretary has now presented its findings to the House of Commons," he said.

"We accept that communication with the local authorities and community was not good enough and we are now carefully considering how best to implement the report's recommendations."

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