Monday 26 September 2016

Two soldiers jailed for raping drunk man after night out

Ben Kendall

Published 15/05/2015 | 19:10

Libyan soldiers stationed in Britain, Moktar Ali Saad Mahmoud (L) and Ibrahim Abugtila Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Libyan soldiers stationed in Britain, Moktar Ali Saad Mahmoud (L) and Ibrahim Abugtila Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Two Libyan soldiers stationed in the UK have been jailed for raping a drunk and vulnerable man after a night out.

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Moktar Ali Saad Mahmoud, 33, and Ibrahim Abugtila, 23, were found guilty of raping and aiding and abetting the rape of the man, who was in his twenties, on Christ's Pieces in Cambridge on October 26.

The pair were each sentenced today to 12 years in jail after Cambridge Crown Court heard the men had acted like "hunting dogs".

They were arrested while undergoing training at Bassingbourn Barracks in Cambridgeshire as part of an agreement by the British Government to help war-torn Libya after the 2011 collapse of Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

Outside court, Detective Inspector Alan Page, who led the investigation, said: "This was a truly horrendous crime and I hope today's result will allow the victim some closure and to begin rebuilding his life.

"He has shown tremendous bravery throughout this whole process and I am grateful to him for the trust he placed in police in ensuring that justice was done.

"These men deliberately targeted their victim because of his vulnerability that night, which they took advantage of to commit this callous crime."

Three other Libyans cadets have already admitted unrelated sex attacks which happened on the same night in Cambridge.

They were sentenced at Norwich Crown Court on May 13, but this could not be reported until the other case was concluded.

Khaled El Azibi, 19, admitted two counts of sexual assault and the theft of a bicycle, and was jailed for 12 months and put on the sex offenders' register for 10 years.

Naji El Maarfi, 21, admitted three counts of sexual assault, one count of exposure and the theft of a bicycle. He was jailed 10 months and put on on the sex offenders' register for 10 years.

Mohammed Abdalsalam, 28, admitted two counts of sexual assault, one count of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour and the theft of a bicycle. He was jailed for 10 months and put on the sex offenders' register for 10 years.

In these cases the group accosted women in Cambridge city centre, Cambridgeshire Police said.

The victims were all teenagers and the attacks included trying to kiss a woman without consent and then sexually assaulting her.

El Maarfi exposed himself to one of the women.

Mahmoud and Abugtila denied attacking the man but were caught on CCTV leading him to the park after meeting him after a night out.

Prosecutor John Farmer said they "picked off" their victim, who was drunk and vulnerable, like a "wounded animal".

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 added: "I was trying my hardest. I was trying my hardest and they were like overpowering me."

The man told officers: "They were horrendous, they weren't human. They weren't human people. They were horrendous people, they were sick people.

"They don't deserve to live, they shouldn't be alive."

The arrests coincided with other concerns over the conduct of Libyan cadets training at the base following a "collapse of discipline".

The incidents prompted the Ministry of Defence to send 300 soldiers back to their home country prematurely, ending an agreement to put 2,000 soldiers through basic infantry and junior command training in an attempt to help rebuild the troubled nation.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told Parliament there were "things we could have done better" and he admitted regrets over the way it was handled.

Jenny Hopkins, Chief Crown Prosecutor for East of England CPS, said: "We know that rape has a devastating effect on victims and we would like to praise the bravery of the victim in this case whose evidence has put two vicious men behind bars for many years.

"We are committed to supporting victims of rape and indeed all sexual assaults and to building strong cases which we can bring to court.

"We would urge all victims of rape, male and female, to have the confidence to come forward and help us bring the perpetrators to justice, as in this case."

Lewis Herbert, the leader of Cambridge City Council, said: "Our thoughts are with those who suffered such horrific and avoidable attacks in the centre of our peaceful city.

"The least the victims and their families deserve is for the Secretary of State for Defence to issue a public apology. They also deserve a clear promise from the Ministry of Defence that will not repeat the multiple, catastrophic errors in any future programmes for UK training of overseas troops from war-torn countries, whichever UK barracks or location is used.

"Never again should the Ministry of Defence keep details of troop visits secret from communities affected like Cambridge. Never again should the MoD carefully produce a risk assessment requiring all visits to 'places of local interest' to be escorted and then, as occurred in August 2015, flagrantly break it and allow totally unsupervised visits to cities like Cambridge, putting our people or other British citizens at risk."

An MoD spokesperson said: "As we have previously made clear, we condemn the incidents that took place in Cambridge and 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.

"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. We have been clear that this training will not be repeated at Bassingbourn."

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