Libya police training reward for help in hostage release: report
( dpa ) - Police training conducted by German experts in Libya was a reward for Libya's help in securing the release of German hostages in the Philippines, a newspaper report said Sunday.
The issue of training Libya's security forces was discussed in 2004 at a meeting between then chancellor Gerhand Schroeder and Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi, Bild am Sonntag said.
The meeting took place in the North African nation four years
after Libya helped broker the release of a group of foreign tourists, among them a German family, held by Muslim rebls on the Philippine island of Jolo.
At an earlier meeting between Schroeder and Gaddafi in 2003 the issue of a return service for the hostage release was discussed, the newspaper said, quoting security sources.
The report said the German embassy in Tripoli was informally briefed on the training seminars conducted between 2005 and 2007 by around 30 members of an elite police unit and a soldier moonlighting for a private security firm.
The issue has caused a stir in Germany amid fears that secrets about police training methods might have been divulged to the Libyans.
Parliament is due to discuss the issue on Wednesday.
A sergeant serving with a crack unit of mountain troops has been suspended while an investigation into his alleged role in the operation is under way.
Eight policemen in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia are also facing disciplinary proceedings, including one who is subject to a criminal investigation relating to the inappropriate use of official documents.
Germany's foreign intelligence service BND denied any involvement in the training programme, which reportedly included instruction on how to storm buildings, abseil from helicopters and board ships.
The Germans were hired by a security firm called BDB Protection founded by a former police commando. The now insolvent company reportedly received 1.6 million euros (2.4 million dollars) from the Libyans, paying each of the men around 15,000 euros 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.
A Libyan mediator helped obtain the release of the German Wallert family who were among a group of 22 foreigners kidnapped at a diving school in Jolo by the Abu Sayyaf rebel group on Easter Sunday 2000.
Renate Wallert was freed after 86 days in captivity, her husband Werner after 127 days on August 27. Their son, Marc, was released nearly two weeks later as the final hostage in the group.
Unconfirmed reports said Libya paid around 21 million euros for the hostages' release.