November 24, 2014 / 5:23 PM / 3 years ago

'Handful' of Libyan troops claim asylum in UK after training: minister

LONDON (Reuters) - A group of Libyan army cadets whose training program in Britain was halted early after a series of sex attacks on local residents have claimed asylum, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said on Monday.

Earlier this month, Fallon said the cadets would be sent home early after two were charged with raping a man and three more were charged with sexual assaults on women.

Britain had been training the group of more than 300 cadets in basic infantry skills and military leadership at Bassingbourn, near Cambridge in south-east England, since June.

“Some 100 left during the course of the training by agreement with the Libyan authorities, the remainder have all now been returned properly to Libya, apart from five who remain in custody and a very small handful who have claimed asylum,” Fallon told parliament on Monday.

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

But Libya has since been riven by infighting with two governments vying for legitimacy and Amnesty International accusing all sides of war crimes.

Fallon said he thought such training would in future better be organized “in the country itself or very close to it.”

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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