Freed Swiss businessman insists he was innocent victim

14th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Swiss businessman who returned home on Monday after being held for two years in Libya insisted he was a victim of a diplomatic spat that had nothing to do with him.

Sporting a grey beard and grey hair, Max Goeldi told reporters at a packed news conference in the capital that he was tired but happy to be reunited with his family.

"It is a moment that is full of emotion," said the 54-year-old, whose voice trembled and who appeared to have suffered during his long stay and detention in Libya.

He had touched down in Zurich at 1.20 am (2320 GMT Sunday) and was greeted by members of his family.

"I'm a victim of a dispute which I have nothing to do with," said Goldi in reference to the July 2008 arrest of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's son, Hannibal, in Geneva after a complaint about maltreatment by two of his domestic staff.

The businessman did not want to specify whether his arrest had any direct connection with the incident in Geneva, saying simply: "I don't feel responsible for somone else's mistake."

Goeldi, who ran the Libyan subsidiary of Swiss-Swedish engineering group ABB, was arrested with compatriot Rachid Hamdani almost two years ago in Libya. Hamdani returned to Switzerland in February.

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

"This period has left scars, it is difficult to say when they will heal," he said. "I need time to return to a normal life."

The dispute was settled when Bern and Tripoli agreed a deal seeking to normalise diplomatic relations between them.

© 2010 AFP

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