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Hostages in Libya to appeal against sentence

Two Swiss hostages held in Libya for more than 500 days plan to appeal against a 16-month jail sentence Tripoli has levied for visa violations.

Max Göldi, director of a division of engineering firm ABB in Libya, and Rashid Hamdani, a canton Vaud-based construction company employee, were also fined SFr1,600 ($1,600).

“ABB has asked its lawyers in Libya to lodge an appeal in the name of Max Göldi against the sentence,” the Swedish-Swiss firm said in a statement, adding it had “legitimate reasons” for doing so.

Hamdani’s wife told Swiss media her husband’s lawyers would also appeal against the ruling on his behalf.

Libyan officials sentenced the men on November 30 for violating labour and residency laws. They were tried in absentia and have been staying at the Swiss embassy in Tripoli.

The men face a second trial on December 15 for “engaging in economic activities without authorisation”.

The men were arrested on July 19, 2008, shortly after Geneva police arrested Hannibal Gaddafi, son of the Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, and his pregnant wife on charges they abused their domestic staff while staying at a hotel in the city.

Gaddafi and his wife were released a few days later, the charges were dropped and bail money was returned. Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz apologised for the arrest in August, hoping the men would be allowed to leave Libya. Instead, Libyan authorities sentenced the men to the jail term.

Switzerland retaliated by suspending a treaty to normalise relations with Tripoli and restricting visas for Libyans to Switzerland and the Schengen area, a bloc of 25 European countries.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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