Germany denies role in Libya police training

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German government ministries had no dealings with a private security company that used German police to train Libyan security forces, a government spokesman say.

7th April 2008

Berlin - Spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said German authorities "were at no stage" involved in the planning or realisation of training seminars held in the North African country between 2005 and 2007.

An army sergeant and 30 active or former members of an elite German police squad conducted the training for the firm in their free time and without informing their superiors.

Press reports had indicated that the German embassy in Tripoli and the country's foreign intelligence service BND were aware of the instruction or acted in an advisory capacity.

The training seminars were "a private matter conducted by a commercial undertaking," the government spokesman said.

Wilhelm admitted to official contacts between Libya and Germany on security matters, but these related to the fight against global terrorism, organised crime, drug smuggling and human trafficking.

A defence ministry spokesman said a sergeant with a Berlin-based troop unit had been suspended while a disciplinary investigation into his role in the training programme was under way.

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 this week.

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.

The 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 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.

A foreign ministry spokesman admitted Monday that a member of the German embassy spoke to the head of the security firm at a sports festival in Libya, but said it was just a chance meeting.

The activities took place shortly after Libya renounced terrorism. Since then, Libya has taken a more pro-Western course, although it still comes under fire for its human rights record.

A report in the Sunday edition of Germany's mass-circulation Bild newspaper said the training was a favour to Libya after it helped secure the release of a German family held hostage in the Philippines in 2000.

It said the matter was discussed when then chancellor Gerhard Schroeder met Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi in 2003 and 2004. A spokesman for Schroeder called the claim a fabrication.


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