Swiss hostage freed in Mali

13th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Swiss government credits Mali President Amadou Toumani for securing Werner Greiner’s release Sunday.

Geneva -- It was Mali's President, Amadou Toumani, who secured the freedom of a Swiss hostage held by a branch of Al-Qaeda in Mali since January, Swiss newswire ATS reported, quoting a Swiss foreign ministry official.

"The Mali President obtained the liberation," said Markus Boerlin, a foreign ministry spokesman.

"Switzerland neither negotiated with the kidnappers nor paid any ransom," he added.

"The Mali President confirmed at around noon to us that the hostage has been freed," said Boerlin.

Werner Greiner, who was abducted on 22 January, was the last western hostage still being held by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) of six westerners seized in the Sahel region in December and January.

Greiner arrived Sunday night in Bamako, where he is being taken care of by Swiss representatives, said Boerlin.

"He will get a medical examination and care. Once his health permits, he will be repatriated to Switzerland to be with his family," said the Swiss official.

The former hostage's health condition was "quite good" given the circumstances, said Boerlin. "But it is clear that he is tired, exhausted."

Greiner was kidnapped with his wife Gabriella Burco and fellow tourists Marianne Petzold of Germany and British national Edwin Dyer in Niger, near the border with Mali.

Burco and Petzold were released on 22 April, along with two Canadian diplomats kidnapped in December.

But on 3 June the group announced on a website that it beheaded Dyer because London would not meet its demands. It was the first time the group had killed a western hostage.

AFP / Expatica

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