October 23, 2009 / 10:31 AM / 9 years ago

Fate of Swiss man held in Libya worries employer

* ABB “very disturbed” at lack of news

* Swiss, Libyan govts urged to reach speedy conclusion

ZURICH, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Engineering group ABB has not heard from one of its employees held in Libya for five weeks, it said on Friday, calling on the Swiss and Libyan governments to resolve the matter swiftly.

ABB Libya country manager Max Goeldi and another Swiss businessman have been prevented from leaving Libya since July 2008, days after Swiss police arrested Muammar Gaddafi’s son Hannibal on charges, later dropped, of beating and mistreating two domestic employees while staying in Geneva.

In a statement, the company said Goeldi had been detained since Sept 18 and it was “very disturbed” that it had not heard from him or received any sign of life for five weeks. His whereabouts were also unknown, ABB said.

“ABB urges the Libyan and Swiss governments to continue their efforts to bring this deeply worrying situation to a successful humanitarian conclusion as a matter of urgency,” the Swiss-Swedish group said.

Switzerland has criticised Libya for failing to keep its promise to free the two businessmen after Berne apologised for the brief detention of Hannibal Gaddafi last year. Swiss media have identified the second man as construction firm employee Rachid Hamdani.

Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz apologised in Tripoli in August and was told the businessmen would be granted exit visas in return, a pledge reiterated on the sidelines of the U.N. General assembly in New York last month.

Merz, who is serving a one-year term as president, a largely ceremonial role, and is also finance minister, has been heavily criticised for the deal.

After Hannibal Gaddafi and his pregnant wife Aline were arrested in a Geneva hotel, Libya cut oil supplies to Switzerland and withdrew more than $5 billion in assets from Swiss banks.

Geneva’s prosecutor dropped the case last year when the employees withdrew their complaint after reaching an undisclosed settlement with the Gaddafis. (Reporting by Katie Reid)

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