Libya has won a formal apology from Switzerland for the arrest last year of Colonel Gaddafi’s son.
President Hans-Rudolf Merz flew to Tripoli hoping to draw a line under a dispute which saw oil supplies disrupted and Libyan funds withdrawn from Swiss banks. The diplomatic row began when Hannibal Gaddafi and his pregnant wife were arrested in Geneva for allegedly mistreating two servants. The case was later dropped but relations between Switzerland and Libya suffered. “If the Swiss authorities and foreign service had acted more discreetly, as they normally do, this problem could have been cleared up last summer,” said Charles Poncet, a lawyer for the Libyan government. Libya reacted angrily to the arrests, cutting oil supplies to Switzerland, withdrawing billions of assets from Swiss banks, and launching legal action. The case was closed when the two servants reached a deal with the Gaddafi family. “To begin with, the Libyans only wanted to have the case put on file, and forget everything else. But when the case was presented, Tripoli made other demands, which proves their bad intent,” said Middle Eastern analyst Hasni Abidi. The case is the latest step in Libya’s rehabilitation from pariah state to one enjoying normal diplomatic relations. And Switzerland should benefit from the smoothing of ruffled feathers. Two Swiss nationals detained in Tripoli and prevented from leaving are now expected to fly home in the next few days.