Freed Swiss businessman prepares to leave Libya: lawyer

12th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Swiss businessman Max Goeldi, freed two days ago after four months in jail for visa offences, has been given his passport and will be given permission to leave Libya on Sunday, his lawyer told AFP on Saturday.

"The prosecutor-general gave us Max Goeldi's passport. We completed all the procedures so that he can obtain his exit visa on Sunday," Salah Zahaf said.

Goeldi has been at the centre of a diplomatic row between Libya and Switzerland, ignited after the brief arrest in Geneva of a son of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in July 2008.

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

Goeldi and 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.

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

Following Hannibal's arrest, Tripoli halted oil deliveries to Switzerland, withdrew its funds from Swiss banks and expelled Swiss companies doing business in Libya.

It also demanded that those responsible for Hannibal's arrest be put on trial.

The dispute escalated when Libya detained the two Swiss businessmen.

The row also saw the Libyan leader declare jihad, or holy war, against Bern in late February and call for an economic boycott of Swiss goods. On March 3, Libya said it would impose a total economic embargo on Switzerland.

In May, a Swiss court ruled in favour of Hannibal in a case against the canton of Geneva and a newspaper over leaked police mugshots taken when he was arrested.

But it refused to grant damages sought by Hannibal of 100,000 francs (69,500 euros, 95,500 dollars).

© 2010 AFP

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