( dpa ) - German police have been visiting Libya to train security men for two decades, a newspaper claimed Sunday, questioning government insistence that the training had been unauthorized and of recent date only.
Berlin has said the police were moonlighting, using vacation to work in Tripoli for a private training company.
In a report to appear in print Monday, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said Germany's BKA federal police service had confirmed it began training Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi's bodyguards in 1979, with an officer travelling to Libya to give courses twice that year.
The newspaper said West Germany, as it then was, cut a deal so that Gaddafi would lean on the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) not to give refuge to Germany's urban terrorists of the time, the Red Army Faction (RAF).
The payoff was in visits by an experienced German bodyguard, it said, also quoting ex-army sources who said they were shown a home video in the mid-1980s of a federal police officer training Libyans.
The paper quoted an officer saying German private firms had provided training in Libya "continuously for more than 20 years."
The Social Democrat whip in the federal parliament, Peter Struck said in remarks quoted Sunday he did not consider it a scandal to train Libyan police, and it was good to cooperate with the Libyans against terrorism.
The training was debated in parliament last week. Parliamentary watchdogs questioned intelligence chiefs, who reportedly said staff knew of it, but had not thought it significant enough to report to the government.
An army sergeant and more than two dozen active or former members of an elite German police unit were confirmed to have conducted training seminars in Libya between 2005 and 2006.
The government has denied it was aware of the instruction, which reportedly included how to storm buildings, abseil from helicopters and board ships.