UN calls for release of two Swiss in Libya

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The UN human rights chief called Tuesday for the release of two Swiss businessmen blocked from leaving Libya.

Geneva -- The UN human rights chief called Tuesday for the release of two Swiss businessmen who have been blocked from leaving Libya since July 2008, describing Tripoli's treatment of the pair as "unfair."

"Their detention seems to be unfair and there has been no proper explanation to them," said Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"They appear to be victims of a state-level dispute between Libya and Switzerland and should be in my view released as soon as possible. Individuals shouldn't be made to suffer because of bad relations between states," she added.

Max Goldi, a senior manager at the Swedish-Swiss engineering giant ABB, and Rashid Hamdani, who works for a small construction firm, have been prevented from leaving Libya after Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's son Hannibal and his wife were briefly arrested in Geneva in July 2008.

The charges against the Kadhafi couple were dropped, but the incident sparked a diplomatic row between Bern and Tripoli.

Tripoli took reprisal measures, including blocking the two Swiss businessmen from leaving Libyan territory.

The businessmen spent most of the past months at the Swiss embassy in Tripoli. In September, however, Libya revealed that they were being held in an unspecific location.

The two have since returned to the Swiss embassy, but on 1 December 2009, they were sentenced by a Libyan court to 16 months in prison and fined LYD 2,000 (CHF 1,689, EUR 1,100) each for overstaying their visas.

They also face a further trial for alleged tax offences, according to Libyan officials.

AFP / Expatica

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