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Cabinet approves legal moves against Libya

The government on Monday approved an application by the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office to open a case against Libya for hostage taking and extortion.

The application was made in connection with the case of the two Swiss businessmen, Rachid Hamdani and Max Göldi, who were prevented from leaving Libya in the aftermath of the brief detention in Geneva of a son of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi in July 2008.

The two men spent much of the time living in the Swiss embassy in Tripoli, but at one point in 2009 were lured out and held incommunicado for several weeks by the Libyan authorities – an action which the Swiss described as kidnapping.

Although Hamdani was eventually allowed to return to Switzerland in February 2010, Göldi served a prison sentence of four months for violation of Libyan visa laws, and was not released until June 2010.

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office submitted its request to the cabinet in March 2011, after the foreign ministry announced that it was filing a complaint against persons unknown. By law, the cabinet has to approve the pursuit of political cases. It found that there are no political reasons not to proceed.

The Gaddafi regime currently faces a rebellion, and many commentators predict that it will fall. In February Switzerland announced that it was freezing any assets held by the Gaddafi family and its associates.

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