Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Libya has derided Switzerland’s announcement of its intention to file a lawsuit against the African nation because of its detention of Swiss citizen, Max Goeldie, and his colleague before allowing them recently to return home from Tripoli. A prominent Libyan official told Asharq Al-Awsat that the agreement that Libya and Switzerland signed through European mediation effort did not entail any legal pursuit of Libya. It is to be recalled that a crisis erupted between Libya and Switzerland in the summer of 2008 when Swiss authorities detained Hannibal al-Gaddafi, one of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi sons, in Geneva. High-level consultations took place between Libya and Switzerland through European countries, settling the crisis a few days ago in a way that seemed as a final end to the crisis between the two countries.
However, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey yesterday said that “we are considering the possibility of taking measures before international organizations against Libya’s detention of two Swiss nationals, Max Goeldi and Rachid Hamdani, in the fall of 2009.” She added: “Both Swiss citizens were isolated for about eight weeks.” In a statement to 20 Minuten website, she said that the legal measures relating to the detention of the two Swiss nationals may be taken within the framework of an arbitration court. This court was notified of an action plan in the case of Hannibal al-Gaddafi, who was detained along with his wife in Geneva in July 2008 after two of their maids complained to Swiss authorities of maltreatment by Hannibal and his wife.
Libya yesterday rejected the Swiss foreign minister’s statement about her country’s intention to prosecute Libya for detaining two Swiss nationals before their recent return to their country from Tripoli. This Libyan official said that the action plan, which both the Libyan and Swiss parties signed last week in the Libyan capital Tripoli through a Spanish, German, and Italian mediation effort to normalize relations between the two countries, did not entail granting Switzerland the right to prosecute Libya. He considered the Swiss foreign minister’s statement as mere bubbles. He added: “The ink with which this Swiss official signed the agreement had hardly dried up; and now she is again displaying her lack of proper conduct, failing to use appropriate words when it comes to any issue that concerns us.” This Libyan official, who insisted on anonymity, said over telephone from Tripoli that the Swiss foreign minister’s statement was unsuccessful, noting that Libya reserves the right to respond to the Swiss official’s statement.
Swiss Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey’s statement came before a scheduled meeting later yesterday between her and Libyan Foreign Ministry officials in the Spanish capital Madrid to review the mutual steps that had been taken as part of the Libyan-Swiss action plan.
The Libyan official said Calmy-Rey’s statement did not help create an appropriate atmosphere conducive to such a meeting. He added: “We do not understand why this Swiss minister is eager not to ease the atmosphere before the meeting. In fact, we are back pushing matters to the brink of a crisis.”
It is to be recalled that talks were held between Tripoli and Berne under EU’s sponsorship resulting in the Libyan authorities’ permission to Hamdani to leave Libya on 9 February. Goeldi was only allowed to return home last week following an agreement signed between Tripoli and Berne aimed at normalizing bilateral relations.