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Swiss prisoner in Libya at half way point

Max Göldi is half way through a four month sentence for immigration violations. Many believe he is a political prisoner caught in a dispute between Bern and Tripoli.

The employee of ABB was first detained shortly after the brief 2008 arrest of Hannibal Gaddafi, one of leader Moammar Gaddafi’s sons, on charges he and his wife abused their domestic staff at a hotel in Geneva.

Göldi’s Libyan lawyer, Saleh Zahaf, told the AFP news agency on Wednesday that he had called on Seif al-Islam, another of Gaddafi’s sons, to intervene to get Göldi’s conditions improved, and ensure that the 53 days he spent in jail after his initial arrest in 2008 were taken into account.

If this were done, Göldi should be freed within a few days, he said.

He said Libyan police had not followed the correct legal procedures at Göldi’s initial arrest.

Göldi and Rachid Hamdani – a second Swiss businessman arrested at the same time, spent most of their detention in seclusion at the Swiss embassy in Tripoli.

Both men were sentenced on visa violation charges last November, but Hamdani won an appeal and was allowed to return to Switzerland. Göldi’s sentence was reduced from 16 months to four.

Göldi was moved into a windowless cell in a Tripoli jail near the end of March.

Libyan authorities said they moved him to the windowless room for security reasons. He is located in a wing with 90 hard criminals and has no access to warm water. Swiss authorities are allowed to visit him six days a week.

Meanwhile, Hamdani has given his first interview since his return to Switzerland in February.

In the French language L’illustre magazine, Hamdani described the ten days in prison after his initial arrest as “hell”, with the hygienic conditions in jail “appalling”.

Difficult psychologically were the nearly two months in late 2009 when Hamdani and Göldi were held by the Libyan authorities at a secret location.

“We were alone, cut off, without any communication with the outside. But we were well treated, the sanitary conditions were good. There was nothing to do but endure and wait. "

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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