Army bodyguard said involved in Libya police training
A member of the security detail of Germany's top soldiers was involved in the secret training of police in Libya, sources in the German armed forces say.
6th April 2008
Berlin - The sergeant and 30 members of an elite German police squad conducted seminars in Libya between 2005 and 2007 while moonlighting for a private security firm in their free time.
The sources said the soldier, serving with a unit of mountain troops, was part of a group responsible for the security of armed forces Inspector-General Wolfgang Schneiderhan.
Germany's Defence Ministry declined to comment, but said that a sergeant was under suspension pending an inquiry into his alleged role in the controversial training programme.
The mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag newspaper said Germany agreed to the secret training as a favour after Libya helped secure the release of a German family held hostage in the Philippines in 2000.
It said the matter was discussed in 2004 when then chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, met Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi in the North African nation. A spokesman for Schroeder called the claim "far- fetched nonsense."
Diplomatic sources also dismissed the newspaper's allegation that the German embassy in Tripoli was informally briefed on the training seminars.
The issue has caused a stir in Germany amid fears that secrets about police training methods might have been divulged to the Libyans. It is expected to be raised in parliament on Wednesday.
Eight policemen in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia have been disciplined for their involvement, including one facing a criminal investigation relating to the misuse 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 by the Abu Sayyaf rebel group at a diving school on the Philippine island of Jolo.
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.