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Businessman’s prison term confirmed but cut

A Libyan appeal court on Thursday confirmed the jail term imposed on a Swiss businessman in December, but cut it from 16 to four months.

The sentence was handed to Max Göldi, the head of Libyan operations for the Swiss-Swedish engineering giant ABB, for violating visa regulations.

The Swiss foreign ministry confirmed the sentence to the Swiss News Agency, but had no comment.

Göldi’s lawyer, Salah al-Zahaf, described the court decision as “bad news”. He said his client could appeal the ruling to the Libyan supreme court within the next three days.

Another Swiss, Rachid Hamdani, was acquitted of the same charge on January 31.

Göldi had earlier been fined 1,000 dinars (SFr 865) on another charge of conducting business in the country illegally. Hamdani, who works for a construction company, was acquitted last Sunday on that charge.

Libyan prosecutors can still appeal against the rulings in both cases.

However, Zahaf told journalists that the Libyan authorities had promised him that Hamdani’s passport would be returned “today or tomorrow”. He would then be free to leave the country.

The two businessmen have been prevented from leaving Libya since July 2008. They were arrested amid a diplomatic spat between Switzerland and Libya following the detention in Geneva of one of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s sons and his wife in July 2008, suspected of beating up two of their domestic staff.

The Gaddafi couple were released on bail and charges were later dropped after the servants were recompensed.

Libya subsequently took a number of measures against Switzerland. However, the authorities in Tripoli have insisted that the charges against the businessmen are unrelated. and agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR