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Deal reached; Swiss man leaves Libya

Libya freed Swiss businessman Max Goeldi. Libya freed Swiss businessman Max Goeldi.
Associated Press / June 14, 2010

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TRIPOLI — Libya said yesterday that Switzerland has paid $1.5 million for mistreating Moammar Khadafy’s son during his arrest there in 2008, and a Swiss citizen held in Tripoli arrived in Zurich, as the countries ended a two-year diplomatic row.

The two nations struck a deal to end a dispute that began with the two-day detention of Hannibal Khadafy and his wife for allegedly beating their maid in a Swiss hotel.

Libya’s protests of their arrests quickly escalated, and in February Moammar Khadafy even called on Muslims to wage jihad, or holy war, against Switzerland.

Amid the row, Libya arrested two Swiss businessmen and tried them on charges of violating residency laws and operating a business illegally.

One of the men, Rachid Hamdani, was acquitted and allowed to leave Libya in February. The other, Max Goeldi, returned to Switzerland yesterday. Goeldi’s family said in a statement today that ‘‘our joy is indescribable now that the long waiting, worrying, and hoping has come to an end.’’

Amnesty International has said Goeldi’s prosecution was politically motivated.

During the dispute, Libya suspended visas for Swiss citizens, withdrew funds from Swiss banks, stopped oil shipments, and reduced flights to Switzerland.

Under the agreement, Switzerland apologized for the ‘‘unlawful publication’’ of photographs of Hannibal Khadafy. It said it would open a criminal investigation to find those responsible and pay compensation if they were not found.

For its part, Libya agreed to expedite the request for Goeldi to receive a judicial pardon.

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