Libya resumes Swiss oil shipments

31st July 2008, Comments 0 comments

Libya has ended a week-long embargo against Switzerland following the arrest of Moammar Gadhafi's son in Geneva.

31 July 2008

GENEVA - Libya has resumed oil shipments to Switzerland, the Swiss Petroleum Association said Wednesday, ending an embargo against the Alpine nation to protest the arrest of Moammar Gadhafi's son in Geneva.

A tanker with 80,000 tons of oil left Libya on Tuesday for Switzerland, said Rolf Hartl, managing director of the Swiss Petroleum Association. The oil will be refined in the Swiss branch of Libya's state-owned oil company Tamoil in Collombey, he told The Associated Press.

Libya's General National Maritime Transportation Co last week stopped oil shipments to Switzerland and barred Swiss ships from its ports. The move followed the arrest two weeks ago of Hannibal Gadhafi.

Police arrested him on 15 July at a luxury hotel in Geneva for allegedly beating two servants being used by him and his wife, according to the couple's lawyer.

Gadhafi was released on bail three days later and returned to Libya with his wife.

The episode prompted a series of diplomatic recriminations that included Libya recalling some of its diplomats from Switzerland, suspending the issuing of visas for Swiss citizens, reducing the number of flights to Switzerland and detaining two Swiss nationals.

The two were released on bail Tuesday but were ordered to stay in Libya.

Libya's General National Maritime Transportation Co says it is the only Libyan-based firm supplying oil to Switzerland.

Libya supplies more than 50 percent of Switzerland's crude imports, which totalled some 2.5 million tons in 2007, according to the latest available Swiss government figures.

Hartl had said his country could cope with any cut-off and arrange to buy the oil elsewhere. But he said Wednesday that he is pleased to see the diplomatic row ending.

It had led to high-level talks between the two countries and a Swiss delegation visiting Tripoli.

Geneva magistrate Michel-Alexandre Graber said criminal proceedings against Gadhafi and his wife could be dropped, if the servants withdraw their complaint.

He said he was not up-to-date on the diplomatic talks between Switzerland and Libya.

The general prosecutor also could halt the proceedings, but the justice authorities will treat Gadhafi's case like any other, Graber said.

Francois Membrez, the lawyer of the two servants in the case, said they don't plan to withdraw their complaint. The servants, a Moroccan man and a Tunisian woman, have said they were beaten and mistreated. They filed charges of bodily harm and coercion against the Libyans.

[AP / Expatica]

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