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Africa

Swiss businessman released from Libyan prison

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-06-10

Swiss national Max Goeldi (pictured, right) was released from a Libyan prison Thursday, where he was held for violating immigration laws. His arrest is seen as symptomatic of a diplomatic row that has recently strained ties between the two countries.

REUTERS - Max Goeldi, the Swiss man at the centre of a long-running diplomatic row between Switzerland and Libya, has been released from prison in Tripoli, his lawyer told Reuters on Thursday.

"Goeldi has been freed," Salah Zahaf said. "He is in good condition physically and morally. He is in a hotel in Tripoli right now and on Saturday we will start making arrangements for an exit visa so he can return home."
 
Goeldi, head of Libya operations for Swiss engineering firm ABB, was sentenced in February to four months in prison for violating Libyan immigration rules. His sentence was due to end on Saturday, two days after he was released.
 
The lawyer declined to say which hotel Goeldi was staying in, saying he wanted some privacy in order to rest after being released from a Tripoli jail.
 
There was no immediate confirmation from the authorities in Switzerland that Goeldi had been released.
 
His problems with the Libyan authorities began days after the July 2008 arrest of a son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Geneva on charges -- which were swiftly dropped -- of mistreating two domestic employees.
 
Hannibal Gaddafi's arrest at a luxury lakeside hotel unleashed a fierce diplomatic dispute, with Libya stopping oil exports to Switzerland and withdrawing millions of dollars in assets from Swiss banks.
 
The row escalated, drawing in the United States and the European Union and showing that Muammar Gaddafi, even though he renounced illegal weapons programmes and emerged from international isolation, is still prepared to take on Western governments.
 
Libyan officials have denied there is any link between Hannibal Gaddafi's arrest and Goeldi's prosecution.
 
The release of Goeldi may allow Libya and Switzerland to draw a line under the row, which also saw the Libyan leader declare a "jihad" on Switzerland. His officials later said he meant a trade embargo, not a holy war.
 
Goeldi was put on trial along with another Swiss citizen, Rachid Hamdani. He was allowed to leave Libya in February after a court cleared him of the charges.

 

Date created : 2010-06-10

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