Three Libyan soldiers convicted of sex attacks in the UK are claiming asylum and seeking the right to stay now their custodial sentences have finished.
Khaled El Azibi, Naji El Maarfi and Mohammed Abdalsalam carried out the assaults while stationed at Bassingbourn Barracks last October. The cadets were among 300 troops being trained to support the newly-formed Libyan government.
They stole bicycles and rode into Cambridge city centre before accosting three teenage women during the early hours of October 26, 2014.
The attacks included trying to kiss a woman without consent and then sexually assaulting her. El Maarfi exposed himself to one of the women.
They each served sentences of between 10 and 12 months before being released from prison and transferred to secure immigration units, Cambridgeshire Police said.
According to the Daily Express, a lawyer for one of their three victims said the woman was “dismayed”. Solicitor Richard Scorer said:
“These men were invited here as guests, to this country, to be trained and to provide help for them in their home country.
“They abused that hospitality in the most appalling way imaginable, and the idea that they would then be granted asylum – having committed these crimes – is completely wrong and unacceptable.
“It adds insult to injury for the women concerned.
“It’s difficult enough to recover from a situation where you’re set upon by a stranger and sexually assaulted.
“But if you have to do that in the knowledge that that person has now come to this country and is trying to build a life here, I think that is very, very, very difficult to deal with, and completely wrong and unacceptable.
“I think it’s a breach of their human rights and really we can’t allow this to happen.”
The grounds for El Azibi, El Maarfi and Abdalsalam claiming asylum have not been revealed.
But immigration experts have told the BBC they could claim they were being persecuted in their home country, or there is now a “fear of persecution” for bringing Libya into disrepute as a result of their criminal convictions in the UK.
The attacks led to the UK government cancelling the training and sending the troops back to Libya.
The Home Office, which does not comment on individual cases, said: “Those who break our laws should be removed from the country at the earliest opportunity and we will seek to remove any foreign national offender who receives a custodial sentence for a criminal offence.”
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