Swiss media question price of Goeldi's freedom

14th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Switzerland on Monday welcomed the return of businessman Max Goeldi, who had been held in Libya since July 2008 in a bitter diplomatic row between the two countries, but questioned the price of his freedom.

After 695 days in Libya, "Max Goeldi is finally free," said Swiss newspaper Le Matin, welcoming the fact that the "nightmare" of the businessman is over.

But Swiss press also questioned the price paid to secure the freedom of the businessman, who had been prevented from leaving Libya in a Swiss-Libyan row following the brief arrest of one of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's sons.

Newspaper Le Temps feared that Tripoli had obtained "a promise of damages."

"To settle the Kadhafi affair, Switzerland would have agreed to terrible humiliations," said Swiss newspaper 24 Heures, which asked what "ransom" had been paid by Switzerland to the Libyan regime.

"For the Libyan regime, the victory is complete," it added in an editorial.

Newspapers were also critical of Swiss handling of the row.

Tribune de Geneve noted in an editorial online that it was "not certain, unfortunately" that Swiss diplomacy should be praised for its management of the case.

"The main winner of the crisis is Moamer Kadhafi," it said.

Goeldi and another Swiss businessman had been blocked from leaving Libyan territory in a tit-for-tat row after the brief arrest in Geneva of Hannibal Kadhafi and his pregnant wife in July 2008.

Goeldi, who works for Swedish-Swiss engineering giant ABB, was this year sentenced to jail for visa offences and imprisoned for around four months before being freed on Thursday.

The other Swiss was allowed to leave the country in February.

The Kadhafi couple was detained by Swiss police after two of their domestic workers charged they had been mistreated by the couple at a Geneva hotel.

The two servants, who were subsequently compensated by the couple, later dropped their assault charges.

Diplomatic ties further deteriorated when Tribune de Geneve published leaked police mugshots of Hannibal in September 2008.

A deal to settle the row was finally signed over the weekend under the mediation of Spain and Germany.

Under the action plan, "Switzerland expresses its apology for the unlawful publication of the photographs of Mr Hannibal Kadhafi," in Geneva on September 4, 2009.

Libya's foreign minister also announced that Hannibal had been awarded 1.5 million euros (1.8 million dollars) in compensation by Geneva canton over the publication of the mugshots.

© 2010 AFP

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