German involvement in Libyan police training scandal spreads

Other News Materials 5 April 2008 15:11 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - A scandal involving the clandestine training of Libyan security services by German police spread on Saturday with press reports saying the nation's foreign intelligence service and the German embassy in Tripoli were involved.

The daily Berliner Zeitung quoted German security sources as saying the BND intelligence service acted as an advisor to the training programme conducted by around 30 police specialists during their spare time between 2005 and 2007.

Members of the German embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli were informed about the operation, the news magazine Der Spiegel said.

Neither the embassy nor the BND commented on the reports. A spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry in Berlin said it was looking into the claims.

The Berliner Zeitung said the training was agreed on in October 2004 when then then chancellor Gerhard Schroeder met Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi in the North African nation.

At the time, the BND insisted it stay in the background and not provide any personnel, the report said.

In addition to the police specialists, former police commandos and a soldier serving with a crack unit of mountain troops were involved.

Der Spiegel said the Germans trained around 120 policemen at a barracks in Tripoli. The Libyans were taught police driving methods and how to storm buildings and board ships, the report said.

The instructors held several meetings with German embassy officials to brief them on the programme, the magazine added.

An army sergeant has been suspended pending an investigation that he was involved in the operation.

Eight policemen were also under investigation in North Rhine- Westphalia, Germany's most populous state, although only one was suspected of a criminal offence in relation to the disclosure of secrets relating to police training methods, according to prosecutors.

The Germans were hired by a security firm founded by a former police commando and reportedly paid 15,000 euros (23,400 dollars) for their services.

They carried out the training without the knowledge of their superiors while on holiday or after taking unpaid leave, according to press reports.

Once a backer of terrorists, Libya has taken a more pro-Western course in recent years, although it still comes under fire from rights groups over its human rights record.