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Libyan hostages still not back in Switzerland

The whereabouts of two Swiss hostages held in Libya remained unknown on Wednesday afternoon, nearly a week after the government said they would be released.

Several media outlets reported on Tuesday that a plane had been dispatched, and by Wednesday photographers were camped outside Bern’s airport.

Bern would neither confirm nor deny it had sent a jet to Tripoli to retrieve the two men, who were denied exit visas from the North African state in July 2008 following the arrest of Moammar Gaddafi’s son, Hannibal, and his wife in Geneva.

Police had received complaints that they had beaten their servants.

President Hans-Rudolf Merz apologised to Libya last week on behalf of Switzerland and Geneva, paving the way for a resumption of bilateral relations. He said he had been given an oral promise that the two hostages would be freed before September 1.

Last week’s agreement prompted an outcry in Switzerland and sparked concerns about violations of national law and the rules of the collective decision-taking process in the government. The Swiss president has a merely ceremonial role, which does not allow him to act without approval of his six other cabinet colleagues.

The cabinet met on Wednesday morning and said it would release more details once the hostages were home.

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