There was a clear reminder this week that Libya remains a country full of pitfalls for foreigners (western or non). In an all too common scene, witnessed so many times during the drawn out trial and appeal of the Bulgarian nurses throughout most of the past decade, a Libyan court has postponed the trial of two Swiss businessmen, who have been detained in Libya since July 2008.
The two men have been charged with unspecified immigration and tax evasion crimes; they have found refuge in the Swiss Embassy. Relations between Libya and Switzerland have deteriorated sharply since that time in 2008, when the Swiss police detained Hannibal al-Qadhafi, the Libyan leader’s son, for physically attacking one of his domestic servants during a trip to Switzerland. Swiss citizens Max Goeldi and Rachid Hamdani were arrested in Tripoli, two days after Hannibal and his wife were released from two days of custody in Geneva police station after being charged with beating their servants.
Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi expects to be treated like an important political leader, and Libya as an important power, wherever he travels and any measures taken against highly visible Libyan citizens or interests are considered an affront on the country’s dignity and honor. Libya’s abundant hydrocarbon resources, of course, are the buttress that allows the regime to act despondently…read more