Two Libyan soldiers being trained in Britain raped a man in a Cambridge park after they homed in on their victim “like hunting dogs”, a jury has been told.
Moktair Ali Saad Mahmoud, 33, and Ibrahim Abugtila, 23, raped a heavily drunk wedding guest in the early hours of 26 October last year after they came across him in the centre of the university town, it was alleged at Cambridge crown court on Wednesday.
The Libyans had been training at Bassingbourn barracks about 10 miles away, as part of a British government programme intended to help bring security to Libya after the 2011 civil war in which rebels, backed by British air and naval power, toppled the dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
“The allegation is that in the early hours of 26 October last year they each raped a man who was a complete stranger to them,” said John Farmer for the prosecution. “While Mr Abugtila was raping him, Mr Mahmoud was assisting by pulling him down.”
Both men are charged with rape and aiding and abetting the other. They deny the charges.
Farmer said forensic evidence showed both men had sex with the man and the issue the jury must decide was whether he had consented. He said the alleged victim “hasn’t got a lot of memory of the detail”.
The jury of seven women and five men heard a recording of the alleged victim’s 999 call just minutes after the suspected attack in which he told the operator he had been anally raped.
The Libyans had left the barracks and visited Cambridge on the Saturday night when they came across the “very unsteady” alleged victim in the small hours of Sunday morning, Farmer told the jury.
“On this particular night each of the defendants may or may not have had alcohol to drink,” Farmer said. “That is something that may or may not emerge. One thing is certain is that [the complainant] had consumed a formidable amount of alcohol. He had been at a wedding on the 25th and came in to complete his night in Cambridge and he had drunk pretty steadily.”
Farmer continued: “He was so drunk that even if it was suggested he was consenting he was in no fit state to consent. The primary case of the prosecution is he didn’t consent.”
The jury was shown CCTV footage from after midnight as the two Libyans and the complainant went separately about the town. One clip showed Abugtila blocking two women in the street apparently trying to talk with them. Another showed him being helped to his feet apparently by a stranger. Other clips showed their alleged victim going into clubs, in one case with friends.
CCTV collated by police showed Mahmoud and Abugtila first saw the heavily drunk man at 3.26am outside Sidney Sussex college.
Farmer said: “They behaved like two hunting dogs who had seen a wounded animal. They effectively took him over and, initially not using too much force and later more forcefully, kept him going in the direction they wanted him to go.”
At 4.03am CCTV showed the three men in King Street. The complainant stopped walking, and Abugtila could be seen putting his arm around his neck while Mahmoud was further ahead. A minute later, close to Christ’s Pieces, a park behind Christ’s College, they went off camera and the Libyans returned on camera 38 minutes later without the alleged victim, who was seen a couple of minutes later in a shop doorway in King Street on the phone to the police.
He told the 999 operator: “I am really scared. Can you come and meet me please … I’ve had erm, quite a few people … [inaudible] try and fucking rape me.”
Pressed on what happened, he said: “I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been fucking bum raped … I tried to run off and they weren’t having any of it.”
Asked again what happened he said: “I got fucking raped tonight.” He told the operator he didn’t know his attackers but that there were three of them who he described as “Indian people”. Farmer told the jury they might consider the call “very significant in the context of it being claimed he had consented cheerfully, voluntarily to having intercourse in his anus with two strangers.”
The Libyans returned to Bassingbourn barracks at about 7.30am but did not have money to pay for their taxi, the court heard. Following the alleged victim’s complaint, investigations began at the barracks, including some forensic tests which proved both men had left DNA evidence that they had both had anal intercourse with the alleged victim.
When this evidence was revealed to Abugtila, Farmer said he told police: “I did have anal sex with the male. It was consensual. He was talking fine when we had sex. He stole my money. This is why he made this up. He initiated it.”
Throughout the opening, the two defendants, wearing dark suits with open-neck blue and pink shirts, listened attentively as the proceedings were translated into Arabic for them. The trial continues.