Swiss businessmen face new Libya trials

16th December 2009, Comments 0 comments

Two Swiss businessmen sentenced by Libya to 16-month jail terms will be tried this weekend.

Tripoli -- Two Swiss businessmen sentenced by Libya to 16-month jail terms for overstaying visas will be tried this weekend on charges of alleged illegal business activities, their lawyer said on Tuesday.

"The trial of Max Goldi was set for 19 (December), while that of Rashid Hamdani ... will be held the day after," said Saleh Zahaf.

The Libyan lawyer did not say if the businessmen would attend their trials, only adding that their "human rights are guaranteed."

Goldi, a senior manager at the Swedish-Swiss engineering giant ABB, and Hamdani, who works for a small construction firm, Goldi, have spent the past few months living at the Swiss embassy in Tripoli.

On 1 December, a Libyan court sentenced them to 16 months in prison and fined them LYD 2,000 (CHF 1,700, EUR 1,100) each for overstaying their visas.

They have decided to appeal those convictions and trial has been set for 22 December, according to Zahaf.

They were detained in Libya after Kadhafi's son and daughter-in-law were arrested in July 2008 after two servants complained he had mistreated them in a Geneva hotel, sparking a diplomatic row between Bern and Tripoli.

The servants later dropped the allegations, but Goldi and Hamdani were not freed.

Tripoli initially denied the men exit visas and charged them with immigration offences. However, they were later released on bail and allowed to stay at the Swiss embassy.

The businessmen had been due to return to Switzerland on 6 September, but two days earlier daily newspaper La Tribune de Geneve printed pictures of Hannibal Kadhafi looking dishevelled while in police custody.

Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz, who in August caused upset at home by apologising for the arrest of the Kadhafis, said the publication of the photos was seen in Tripoli "as a humiliation."

Earlier in December, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called for the release of Goldi and Hamdani, describing Tripoli's treatment of them as "unfair."

AFP / Expatica

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