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Swiss businessman acquitted in Libya

A court in Libya on Sunday acquitted Swiss national, Rachid Hamdani, of charges of conducting business in the country illegally.

The verdict was announced by Hamdani’s lawyer, Salah Zahaf.

Hamdani, who worked for a construction company, is one of two Swiss businessmen who have been prevented from leaving Libya since July 2008.

The other, Max Göldi, the head of Libyan operations for the Swiss-Swedish engineering giant ABB, was sentenced on Saturday on the same charge to a fine of 1,000 dinars (SFr 865), described by commentators as “symbolic”.

Both men had previously received a fine and a 16 month prison sentence on a separate charge of violating visa regulations. Hamdani’s conviction on this charge was overturned on appeal last week.

Göldi’s appeal was scheduled for last Thursday, but postponed until February 11.

Zahaf told journalists that Hamdani was now free to leave the country “if there is no appeal”.

The Swiss foreign ministry confirmed the verdict, but made no further comment.

Hamdani and Göldi 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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