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Family ‘confident’ Swiss man will soon return from Libya

Swiss businessman Max Goeldi, who was jailed in Libya amid a diplomatic row sparked by the arrest of the son of Moamer Kadhafi, will soon be allowed to return home, his family said Friday.

“We are confident that Max, thanks to the support of the various parties, can now leave the country quickly and return home to his family,” said the Goeldi family in a statement.

“We have noted the liberation of Max with great relief and joy.

“From the conversations that we have been able to carry out with him in the meantime, we have been able to ascertain that he is well and that he has endured well his time in jail,” added the family.

Swiss officials were however more cautious about Goeldi’s return.

Lars Knuchel, spokesman of the Swiss Foreign Ministry said that Thursday’s liberation was “a step”.

He noted that “the matter now is whether Goeldi can return home as soon as possible to be reunited with his family.”

Likewise, in New York, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey warned against excess optimism, telling Swiss newswire ATS that there are no guarantees on the date of Goeldi’s return.

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 a son of the Libyan leader in July 2008.

Goeldi, who works for Swedish-Swiss engineering giant ABB, was sentenced this year to jail for visa offences.

He was imprisoned for around four months before being freed on Thursday. The other Swiss was allowed to leave the country in February.

According to the website of Libyan newspaper Qurina, it was the supreme court that had ordered Goeldi’s liberation.

The newspaper, which cited an unnamed official source, added that the liberation had “happened on the eve of a visit of a high-ranking Swiss delegation which is to meet Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmoudi on Friday.”

Two years ago, Hannibal Kadhafi and his pregnant wife were 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, dropped their assault charges.