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Swiss hostages face trial in Libya, says wife

The two Swiss hostages being held in Libya will have to face trial before being allowed to leave the country, the wife of one of them said on Wednesday.

Bruna Hamdani's husband, Rachid, and businessman Max Göldi, who works for the engineering giant ABB, have been prevented from leaving Libya for more than a year, accused of violating visa regulations.

She was speaking to French-language public television on Wednesday, just two days after the men were unexpectedly returned to the Swiss embassy in Tripoli after being held for more than seven weeks in a secret location.

They had been lured from the embassy in September, in an action which the Swiss foreign ministry described as "kidnapping".

Bruna Hamdani, who is now again in regular contact with her husband, said that during their disappearance the two had been kept in separate locked rooms in a villa with no contact to the outside world, but had been well treated.

They were first detained in July 2008, a few days after Geneva police briefly held Hannibal Gaddafi, one of the sons of the Libyan leader, Moammar Gaddafi, and his wife, on charges of mistreating their servants.

Although the servants were compensated and the charges dropped, the two Swiss were still not allowed to leave Libya. However, they were permitted some freedom of movement.

Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz flew to Tripoli in August and apologised for Hannibal's arrest – triggering a storm of protest at home – but contrary to his expectations, the men were not allowed to return to Switzerland.

After months of quiet diplomacy, Switzerland changed tack last week. It announced that it was suspending the agreement Merz had signed during his visit and that Libyan citizens could face visa restrictions.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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