Swiss kept in Libya over Kadhafi son mug shots

23rd November 2009, Comments 0 comments

Mug shots of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's son led Tripoli to block the return of two Swiss nationals.

Geneva -- The publication of mug shots of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's son after his arrest in Switzerland led Tripoli to block the return of two Swiss nationals from Libya, the Swiss president told newspapers Friday.

Daily newspaper La Tribune de Geneve on 4 September printed police pictures of Hannibal Kadhafi looking dishevelled following his arrest in July 2008 after two servants complained he had mistreated them.

The servants accused him and his wife of abusing them in a Geneva hotel, and the claims led to a diplomatic row with Libya. The servants later dropped the allegations.

Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz told daily paper Le Temps that the publication of these photos was seen in Tripoli "as a humiliation".

Two Swiss businessmen who were detained in Libya in retaliation for the arrests had been due to return to Switzerland on 6 September.

"Everything was in place for their return," Merz told daily newspaper Le Matin.

But "this business of photos has caused problems. Moamer Kadhafi talked to me about it when I met him in New York" on 23 September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the Swiss president added.

The editor in chief of La Tribune de Geneve, Pierre Ruetschi, said it was "quite surprising that today the press is being attacked to explain a setback."

He defended the publication of the pictures as a piece "of information on the conditions of the arrest" of the son of the Libyan leader.

"The prime responsibility for blunders in this affair comes back to the government," Ruetschi added.

The arrest of the Libyan leader's son prompted a furious response from the North African state which demanded a Swiss apology.

As well as detaining the two businessmen, Tripoli restricted air links, stopped issuing visas to Swiss nationals and shut the Tripoli offices of major Swiss companies ABB and Nestle.

During a visit to Tripoli on 20 August, Merz apologised for his country's arrest of Hannibal Kadhafi, much to the annoyance of some Swiss politicians.

AFP / Expatica

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