Hannibal, Muammar Gaddafi’s fifth born son was arrested on July 2008 in one of Geneva’s luxury hotels. Hannibal had gone to Switzerland to visit Max Goeldi, a Swiss businessman who was serving a castigatory sentence at Al-Jadaida prison. The press of these two states reported the unfolding story in two different ways in which each exposed the wrongdoing of different parties in this case. According to Le Matin, a Swiss daily, Hannibal was arrested after being accused of causing bodily harm to two-hotel waiters while in company of his wife (AFP).
Consequently, the Swiss citizens living in Libya were vetoed from leaving the country. Besides, they were charged with manipulations of their visas and this bore them a jail sentence of sixteen months. All flights that were destined to Switzerland were immediately cancelled. In addition, Libya cut her oil supplies to Swiss and threatened to withdraw its saving from the Swiss banks, which had amounted to billions (AFP). As reported by the official news agency, Libya could only have annulled her decision after explicit elucidation of the action against the diplomats and businessmen.
Later on, a Libyan court upended Hannibal’s sentence and allowed his leaving. This move by the court also led to Goeldi’s sentence term to be reduced up to only four months. According to correspondents in Bern, the jailing of Goeldi was a disciplinary budge but in Libya’s capital city, Tripoli, this was denied vehemently. Muammar Gaddafi, the peculiar Libyan president, not only called upon the United Nations to get rid of Swiss as a state but also break her up with the neighboring countries.
He also ordered for the closure of the office doors of major Swiss companies such as Swiss-Swedish engineering company ABB and Nestle and wanted apology from Bern for unfair treatments of his son, other diplomats and businessmen (Bayers). Two days after the arrest, the Libya’s emissary to Switzerland was called. A Swiss government ministry accused the Libya’s leadership for taking the punitive measures against Swiss. In her view through the foreign ministry, Swiss regarded the moves made by the Libyan diplomats as completely incongruous rejoinder to customary criminal investigation.
Despite the halt of oil supply by Libya, Switzerland did not raise the product’s prices and additionally reported that its supplies were not greatly affected since her distributors would have more than enough time to look for other supplier. In addition, Swiss reported that the decision by the Libyan president to withdraw four billion pounds from the Swiss banks was a sole-minded battle in opposition to her interests. In Geneva, the government proscribed the minarets construction in Libya that provoked Gaddafi to call for a holy war against her.
Furthermore, there emerged allegations in Switzerland that she would blacklist the highly-ranked Libyan natives and as a result deny them entry permits to Swiss (Press TV, 1). Later on in Tripoli, Hans-Rudolf Merz, Swiss president, apologized for the undeserved arrest of the Libya’s diplomats by the Swiss police in a joint press conference. This, according to the officials of Swiss, was aimed at refurbishing the bilateral associations between the two countries and also to ensure the release of the Swiss businessmen who had been debarred from leave-taking Libya.
However, in the Le Temps, a French-language Swiss newspaper, this apology was not necessary. In another paper, The Tribune de Geneve, Merz was accused for having denied the state’s constitutional principles and having stooped to a dictatorial state. The president’s action was viewed as shameful by most of the some of the Swiss citizens. All the same, Hannibal was later released on a police bail.