October 15, 2016 / 8:49 AM / 2 years ago

Britain pays compensation to victims of sex attacks by Libyan cadets

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Ministry of Defence has paid compensation to two people who suffered sex attacks in 2014 by Libyan cadets who were being trained at a British army barracks.

Over 300 cadets had been taking part in the program at Bassingbourn barracks, near Cambridge in eastern England, but they were sent home earlier than planned following a spate of attacks, several of which led to charges and convictions.

“Compensation payments have been made to two people treated appallingly by several Libyan cadets being trained in the UK,” a Ministry of Defence spokesman said, giving no further details.

Britain played a key role in the Libyan revolution that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, mounting an air campaign against Gaddafi’s forces.

But with Libya split between rival armed factions and descending into chaos, Britain tried to help shore up the country’s military in 2014 by providing training in basic infantry skills and leadership to the 300 cadets.

Two of the cadets were sentenced to 12 years in jail for the rape of a man in Cambridge city center, while three others received sentences of 10 to 12 months for sex attacks on three women that took place on the same night as the rape.

Britain had initially committed to providing training to a total of 2,000 Libyan soldiers, but the program was scrapped following the attacks and the collapse of the Libyan government that had agreed it with Britain.

Kim Harrison, a lawyer who represented two of the victims, told BBC radio on Saturday that the local community had complained of several incidents of sexual assault and vandalism in the weeks leading up to the attacks.

“Security was increased but it just wasn’t increased enough,” she said.

The ministry spokesman said: “We have previously expressed regret that there were things we could have done better with this program.”

Reporting by Estelle Shirbon Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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