A Swiss man who has been held in Libya since July 2008 is on his way back to Switzerland. Max Goeldi was at the center of a diplomatic spat between the two countries, which have now signed an agreement to cool tensions.
Calmy-Rey traveled to Libya to help settle the row
After spending almost two years in a Libyan jail for visa offenses, Swiss businessman Max Goeldi is heading back home to Switzerland. It will be the end, many hope, of a fierce diplomatic dispute between Bern and Tripoli.
Goeldi was released from the prison three days ago, and Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has confirmed that he will be leaving Libya Sunday.
The conflict dates back to the arrest of a son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The son, Hannibal, was arrested for allegedly beating his domestic servants in Geneva in July 2008. The charges against him were later dropped, but it was the start of a row that the two countries now hope to put behind them.
A few days after Hannibal's arrest, Goeldi was detained and not allowed to leave Libya. Goeldi has spent the last four months in prison after being convicted of violating immigration rules.
The situation has hurt relations between Switzerland and Libya, but the two nations have now signed what Calmy-Rey calls an "action plan" to help repair diplomatic ties.
"Goeldi will return to Switzerland and this is the start of the normalization of relations between the two countries," she said.
The price for Goeldi's return home appeared to be a Swiss apology for the publication of a leaked police photo of Hannibal Gadhafi taken while he was under arrest. Libya says the leak was an invasion of his privacy and hurt his reputation.
The Swiss foreign minister said her country acknowledged the publication was unlawful, gave an apology and promised to pay Hannibal Gadhafi compensation if a criminal investigation fails to find who was responsible for the leak.
Spain, which currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency, was part of the negotiations in Tripoli and the agreement was also signed by a German mediator.
Author: Matt Zuvela (afp/AP)
Editor: Kyle James