Switzerland sets aside payout after Libya frees businessman

16th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Switzerland has set aside more than a million euros in compensation after Libya freed a Swiss businessman detained amid a dispute involving Moamer Kadhafi's son, an official said Wednesday.

"Switzerland has transferred the sum of 1.5 million francs (1.08 million euros, 1.33 million dollars) to a German bank account," foreign ministry spokesman Lars Knuchel told AFP.

However, the money will only be paid under certain conditions related to a case involving Libyan leader Kadhafi's son, the foreign ministry said.

The Swiss businessman, Max Goeldi, returned home Monday after being detained nearly two years ago in Libya and insisted he was an innocent victim of a diplomatic spat.

Goeldi and another Swiss businessman were arrested after Kadhafi's son Hannibal and his pregnant wife were held by Swiss police, with two of their domestic staff claiming they had been mistreated by the couple at a Geneva hotel.

Diplomatic ties further deteriorated when a Swiss newspaper published leaked police mugshots of Hannibal in September 2008 that were taken at the time of his arrest.

A deal aimed at normalising ties was finally signed over the weekend under the mediation of Spain and Germany.

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

Under the deal -- which has been referred to as an "action plan" -- the Swiss government will pay the compensation amount if those responsible for publishing the photos are not identified.

"As of now, no amount has been transferred to Libya," the foreign ministry said.

"The action plan foresees compensation if the ongoing criminal investigation in Geneva does not find the guilty party."

Imprisoned after his arrest, before being released on bail and taking refuge for a number of months in the Swiss embassy in Tripoli, Goeldi had spent the last four months in jail after being found guilty of visa offences.

The other Swiss businessman, Rachid Hamdani, was allowed to return home in February, and the following month Libya and the European Union lifted travel bans that were imposed in the wake of the row.

© 2010 AFP

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