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Switzerland suspends normalisation deal with Libya

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-11-04

Swiss government spokesman Andre Simonazzi (pictured) announced his country has suspended an agreement struck with Libya over the arrest of one of Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi's sons in Geneva last year.

REUTERS - Switzerland said on Wednesday it has suspended an agreement on normalising relations with Libya because Tripoli has failed to allow two Swiss nationals to leave the country.

The two Swiss citizens have been blocked from leaving Libya since July 2008, days after Swiss police arrested Muammar Gaddafi's son Hannibal and his pregnant wife in Geneva on charges, later dropped, of mistreating two domestic employees.

The arrest prompted Libya to cut oil supplies to Switzerland and withdraw more than $5 billion in assets from Swiss banks.

The two sides had expected to normalise ties after Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz apologised to the Libyan government in August and after they agreed to set up an independent committee to investigate the arrest of Gaddafi's son.

The Swiss government had expected Libya to allow the two Swiss citizens to leave the country.

"Tripoli is refusing to cooperate. The two Swiss citizens are to date still held in an undisclosed location," Swiss government spokesman Andre Simonazzi told a news conference.

"Switzerland has decided to suspend the agreement signed on Aug. 20. The Swiss confederation will also continue to have a restrictive visa policy with regards to Libyan citizens," Simonazzi also said.

Merz has been under pressure at home for failing to secure the release of the two Swiss citizens.

The two men, described as "hostages" in some Swiss media, are Max Goeldi, head of the Swiss-Swedish electrical engineering conglomerate ABB in Tripoli, and a 68-year-old businessman working for a construction company, identified as Rachid H. in Swiss media.


Date created : 2009-11-04