EU hopes for swift return of Swiss businessman from Libya

11th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Senior EU officials on Friday hailed Libya's release of Swiss businessman Max Goeldi, jailed nearly four months ago for visa offences, expressing the hope that he will soon by allowed to go home.

"We welcome the release... His prompt return to his home country would be an important step on the way towards the resolution of the bilateral crisis between Libya and Switzerland," said the European Union's foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem.

Libya detained and tried Goeldi after the brief arrest in Geneva of a son of the Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in July 2008.

Hannibal Kadhafi and his pregnant wife were detained by Swiss police after two of their domestic staff charged they had been mistreated by the couple at a Geneva hotel.

Goeldi, and fellow Swiss national Rashid Hamdani were held for 53 days and then released, but were then barred from leaving the country.

Hamdani was finally allowed to leave in February, while Goeldi, a representative of Swiss company ABB in Libya, was sentenced to four months in jail for overstaying his visa.

Goeldi's lawyer said his client expected to be able to leave Tripoli over the weekend.

In March, Libya and the European Union lifted travel bans that were imposed in the wake of the diplomatic row.

Cristina Gallach, spokeswoman for the Spanish EU presidency, called Goeldi's release "very good news".

© 2010 AFP

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