Tensions between Switzerland and Libya are continuing to escalate as
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi enacts a number of retaliatory measures
to protest the recent arrest of his son and wife in Geneva. The son,
Hannibal Gadhafi and his wife were arrested July 15 charged with
abusing two of their domestic servants. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's youngest son,
32-year-old Hannibal, and his pregnant wife Aline were staying in a
luxury hotel when they were arrested. A Magistrate in Geneva charged
them with inflicting physical injuries and using threats and force
against two of their staff.
The couple left Switzerland after
paying a bail totaling $1.5 million. Since returning home, the Swiss
government has felt the heat of Colonel Gadhafi's anger. He has issued
a series of reprisal measures against Switzerland, which show no signs
Former Director of the Center for Security Policy in
Zurich, Kurt Spillman, says he was taken aback by Libya's reaction to
this diplomatic flap.
"It is surprising how fast this
developed and I think we may have underestimated the speed it might
develop because the political system in Libya is entirely alien to the
Swiss law and the democratically controlled processes," he said.
"Whereas there, one man can make very quick, very drastic decisions."
Gadhafi's vengeance was indeed quick and biting. In the past few days,
two Swiss citizens have been arrested in the Libyan capital, Tripoli,
accused of having violated Libyan immigration laws. The Swiss foreign
ministry says the men, who work for the Swiss-Swedish technology group,
ABB and for Nestle, are being held under what it calls "alarming
conditions" in a small cell with 20 other people.
recalled some of its diplomats from Switzerland, reduced the number of
flights there and stopped issuing visas to Swiss citizens.
its most drastic action, the general national maritime transportation
of Libya says it has stopped all oil exports to Switzerland, and Swiss
ships have been banned from entering the country's ports. No
confirmation of the Libyan move has been given by Swiss officials.
supplies more than half of Switzerland's crude oil imports. While
Managing Director of Swiss Oil Association Rolf Hartl calls this
situation deplorable, he says he believes the crisis will eventually
"I do positively think we do not have to worry because
at the end of the day business as usual will come back," he said. "And,
even if at the end of the day there would be a shortage of supply, this
will be compensated by other means. And, I do not think this will
increase the consumer prices at the pump station."
Switzerland has more than four months of oil reserves upon which to
draw. It also can buy oil from other sources should the need arrive.
moves are being made to ease the tensions. But Libya's leader insists
Switzerland apologize for the arrest of his son and daughter-in-law
before relations can be normalized.