Swiss want to send delegation to Libya

30th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Switzerland wants Libya's approval to send a group to free two Swiss businessmen.

Geneva -- Switzerland wants Libya's approval to send a delegation to seek the release of two Swiss businessmen prevented from leaving the North African country, the foreign minister said Saturday.

The delegation's duty would be to "seek the release of the two Swiss," Micheline Calmy-Rey told TSR television.

"That is the priority," she said, adding that she had not been updated on the two businessmen and that the delegation would not travel to Libya until Tripoli approves.

Calmy-Rey said a recent deal signed between the two countries, aimed at ending a diplomatic dispute after the arrest of one of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's sons, would not take effect without the businessmen's release.

The two businessmen, accused of immigration offences, were prevented from leaving Libya for more than a year following the arrest of Kadhafi's son and his wife in a luxury Geneva hotel in July 2008.

On Friday, the Swiss foreign ministry said the two businessmen were now being held by Libyan authorities. They were previously staying at the Swiss embassy.

Libya informed the Swiss government last Wednesday that the two men were detained in a "safe" place, the ministry told Swiss newswire ATS.

The ministry said Tripoli justified its actions by saying it feared that Switzerland would resort to military action to get the men out of Libya.

However, Tripoli then informed Bern that the pair, employed respectively by Swedish-Swiss engineering giant ABB and a small construction firm, was detained "in order to guarantee their security."

Kadhafi's son Hannibal and his wife were arrested after two of their servants alleged they had been mistreated.

They were held for two days before being freed on bail. The complaint against them was dropped after a lawyer said the servants received compensation.

AFP / Expatica

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