The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has paid out tens of thousands of pounds in compensation to two victims of rape and sexual abuse by Libyan soldiers in Cambridge. More than 300 Libyan military cadets had been brought to Bassingbourn barracks, in Cambridgeshire, to train with the British Army.
The exercise in 2014 cost the UK £13.9m and was designed to help stabilise war-torn Libya after the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. But whilst on an unsupervised break from the barracks two of them raped a man in Cambridge city centre and, on the very same night, three other cadets sexually assaulted four teenage girls.
Moktar Ali Saad Mahmoud, 33, and Ibrahim Abugtila, 23, are serving 12 years in prison for the horrific rape while three others, Khaled El Azibi, 19, Ibrahim Naji El Maarfi, 21, and 28-year-old Mohammed Abdalsalam, have received shorter custodial sentences for the string of sexual assaults.
The troops were the first of 2,000 soldiers due to be trained at the barracks but the assaults brought the operation to a premature end as cadets were sent home.
Lawyers for the male victim and one of the teenage girls argued that their human rights had been breached. They also confirmed to the BBC that the MoD agreed to pay them out-of-court damages believed to be tens of thousands of pounds.
But despite the payouts Lawyer Kim Harrison, who represented the pair, said there was still a lot of "unanswered questions". She said: "I think there are still a lot of unanswered questions that the Ministry of Defence need to answer, not just to my clients who've been through an appalling ordeal but for the wider community who were terrified at the time."
She added that local residents had reported a number of incidents, including alleged sexual assaults and vandalism, even before these attacks came to light. Harrison said: "Security was increased but it just wasn't increased enough".
Harrison said the MoD had made no formal admission of liability to her clients, which is "upsetting them a lot". She added: "But it's clear that paying this compensation ... is some acceptance of responsibility".
The first victim was raped at night on Christ's Pieces, a park in Cambridge city centre, by Abugtila and Mahmoud. Despite denying the charges they were spotted on CCTV after one of them had been seen harassing women beforehand.
On the same day three men fled the barracks and carried out sex attacks on four teenage girls. A court heard how El Azibi, who was sentenced to 12 months and El Maarfi and Abdalsalam each to 10 months, had stolen bicycles, rode to Cambridge and assaulted the women.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "Compensation payments have been made to two people treated appallingly by several Libyan cadets being trained in the UK. We have previously expressed regret that there were things we could have done better with this programme."