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 from Geneva.
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
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 of abating.
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."
Colonel 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.
has recalled some of its diplomats from Switzerland, reduced the number of
flights there and stopped issuing visas to Swiss citizens.
In 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.
Libya 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
Hartl says Switzerland has more than four months of oil
reserves upon which to draw. It also can buy oil from other sources should the
Diplomatic 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.