- Ibrahim El Maarfi, Mohammed Abdalsalam and Khaled El Azibi want to stay
- Trio jailed after they hunted in 'pack' to attack three women in Cambridge
- Soldiers escaped barracks, stole bikes and cycled to city to target women
- After less than a year in jail they have been released to immigration centre
Three Libyans jailed for molesting women in a drunken rampage are seeking asylum in Britain.
The soldiers, who have served short sentences in UK prisons, are thought to be using legal aid to lodge their claims.
They say they risk persecution if sent home because their crimes have brought Libya into disrepute.The case shows yet again how human rights laws can scupper the deportation of foreign offenders.
Demand to stay: Ibrahim El Maarfi, Khaled El Azibi and Mohammed Abdalsalam,
have been convicted of sexual assaults in the UK and are now seeking asylum
The fiasco is also a blow to David Cameron who had said the soldiers should not be allowed to stay here.
In a book serialised by the Mail last week the Prime Minister was criticised by top brass for his 2011 Libyan intervention. That intervention led to the disastrous training scheme that brought the soldiers here and cost taxpayers £15million.
Richard Scorer, a solicitor representing one of the four women who were attacked, said: ‘She, like the other victims, assumed as soon as these men had completed their sentences they would be deported.
‘My client was dismayed and shocked to learn of the asylum applications. Like us, she is struggling to understand how men who came to this country as guests of our country and abused this hospitality could possibly be making these applications.
‘She, and we, think it is totally and utterly unacceptable.’ He said asylum applications were normally made on the basis that the applicant had a ‘general and justifiable fear of persecution in their home country’.
Lawyers representing the soldiers are also expected to argue their lives would be at risk from Islamic State fanatics in Libya.
Khaled El Azibi, Ibrahim Naji El Maarfi and Mohammed Abdalsalam were among 300 recruits who came to the UK under an arrangement to train them to restore security to their country. Two other cadets were jailed for 12 years each for raping a man in a park in Cambridge on the same day the women were sexually assaulted.
Cambridgeshire Police confirmed the three men have been released from prison and are being held at secure immigration units.
Even if their applications are unsuccessful they are likely to extend their time in the UK by months and possibly years – all at great cost.
Four Libyans applied for asylum before the training programme at ex-RAF Bassingbourn was closed down, bringing the total to seven.
Cambridge Labour MP Daniel Zeichner said: ‘It does seem possible that these people may not be sent back because it is not safe for them.
‘None of this would have happened if the MoD and Secretary of State for Defence hadn’t taken a gamble with people’s safety by letting these people out unsupervised in Cambridge.’
El Azibi, El Maarfi and Abdalsalam were aged 19, 21 and 27 respectively when they stole bicycles and rode into Cambridge on October 26 last year.
During a chaotic hour beginning at 10.30pm they approached one victim outside a pub and fondled her breasts and bottom. El Maarfi also exposed himself and tried to kiss her.
CHAOS IN CAMBRIDGE: HOW LIBYAN SOLDIERS RAN AMOK ON VISIT
They cycled off when the pub manager confronted them But they touched another woman’s bottom before finding two more victims.
El Maarfi put his hand on the leg of one of the friends and tried to lift her skirt. When she objected, Abdalsalam committed a similar assault.
She called out to her friend for help but the other woman was being attacked by El Azibi.
El Azibi was given a 12-month jail term in May and the other men were handed ten-month sentences at Cambridge Crown Court.
The training programme was given the go-ahead despite a warning from the cross-Whitehall Libya security compact delivery group. It predicted recreational visits would ‘pose significant immigration, security and reputational risks’.
The Home Office said in a statement: ‘We will seek to remove any foreign national offender who receives a custodial sentence for a criminal offence.’
In 2011, Britain conducted air strikes to stop the slaughter of Libyan civilians in Benghazi. The intervention led to the collapse of the Gaddafi regime but the country has been in chaos ever since, with militias running amok.
Last October, a devastating National Audit Office report revealed the Home Office had lost track of 760 of the 4,200 foreign criminals who had been freed back on to our streets by the end of March 2014 pending their removal.
They can rely on human rights laws to thwart deportation or, in some cases, simply vanish.
In the biography serialised by the Mail, General Sir David Richards, ex-chief of the defence staff, said that ‘being in the Combined Cadet Force at Eton’ did not qualify Mr Cameron to decide the tactics of complex military operations such those in Libya.
HOW HUMAN RIGHTS ACT HAS HELPED FOREIGN CRIMINALS STAY
Around one foreign criminal applies for asylum in Britain every day despite committing offences either in this country or abroad.
Home Office figures from last year revealed how around 400 convicts from overseas a year are now looking for refuge in this country by taking advantage of human rights laws.
In 2014 it emerged 100 war criminals had applied for asylum in the UK in the last 12 months, with nearly 800 asking the UK Border Agency to remain in this country over the last eight years.
There have been several high profile cases - including one that may chime with the Libyan soldiers now seeking asylum.
A Libyan convicted of 78 offences escaped deportation last Febuary on the grounds he is an alcoholic. The 53-year-old man, who is protected by an anonymity order, successfully argued he would be tortured and imprisoned by the authorities in his homeland because drinking alcohol is illegal.
Iraqi Aso Mohammed Ibrahim left 12-year-old Amy Houston to die ‘like a dog’ under the wheels of his car after knocking her down in 2003 while banned from driving.
Twice refused asylum, he was never removed by the Home Office and, after the killing, was allowed to stay in the UK after serving a mere four months in jail because he had fathered two children here, which judges ruled gave him a right to a ‘family life’.
A Bangladeshi woman jailed for five years for stabbing her baby daughter with a kitchen knife in East London in 2009 won the right to stay in Britain so she could rebuild her relationship with the child.