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Foreign minister deplores hostage situation

The Swiss foreign minister has described the situation of two Swiss businessmen prevented from leaving Libya for 18 months as a “humanitarian drama”.

Micheline Calmy-Rey told the diplomatic press club in Bern on Thursday that the two men were living in a situation of great uncertainty, which was an extremely difficult experience for them.

Switzerland has informed the United Nations, and is examining all the legal angles, but “it is more complicated than it appears,” she said.

In Tripoli, meanwhile, the appeal hearing of Max Göldi, one of the two businessmen, was put back for the second time to January 24.

On December 2 Göldi and Rachid Hamdani, who work for Swiss companies, were sentenced to 16 months in prison by a Libyan court for visa irregularities and tax evasion.

January 24 is also the date of Hamdani’s appeal, which had also been put back.

The two have been living in the Swiss embassy in Tripoli for several weeks, for fear of being arrested if they step outside. However, the court has said it will not hear their appeal if they do not attend in person.

The two also face a separate trial on charges of conducting illegal business activities.

They were taken into custody in July 2008 shortly after Geneva police arrested Hannibal Gaddafi, a son of Libyan ruler Moammar Gaddafi, and his wife on charges that they abused their domestic staff at a city hotel. The servants later received compensation and the charges were withdrawn.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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