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Swiss fear payback for arrest of Gadhafi’s son

Image: Kadhafi demonstration
Libyan protesters hold up portraits of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and his son Hannibal outside the Swiss embassy in Tripoli on Wednesday.Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

Switzerland warned its citizens Wednesday not to travel to Libya, saying the North African nation has been retaliating ever since Swiss police arrested the youngest son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for allegedly beating two of his servants.

Libya has recalled some of its diplomats in Switzerland, suspended the issuing of visas for Swiss citizens, cut down the number of flights to Switzerland and has detained two Swiss nationals on various charges, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"Swiss companies in Libya have received orders to close, and some company offices have been sealed," it added.

Electrical engineering company ABB Ltd. said one of its employees was among the two Swiss nationals detained in Libya. The company's office in Tripoli has been temporarily closed.

Swiss companies affected
Swiss food and drinks giant Nestle SA said its office in Libya was sealed after one of its employees was questioned by Libyan authorities for hours Sunday.

Swiss International Air Lines said Libya has restricted its flights between Zurich and Tripoli to a single flight per week following the arrest of Hannibal Gadhafi, down from three flights a week.

Libyan authorities said the reduction was for technical reasons, Swiss airline spokesman Jean-Claude Donzel confirmed.

Libya also announced a similar cut in flights of the Libyan airline Afriqiyah to Geneva, the Geneva airport said.

The ministry revised its travel notice for Libya, advising Swiss passport holders that Libyan authorities were carefully examining visas and residence permits and saying they should expect administrative or criminal penalties for the "slightest irregularities."

Incident at luxury hotel
Hannibal Gadhafi and his wife were taken into police custody last week after an incident at a luxury hotel in Geneva, according to their lawyer. They were released on bail two days later and left the country.

The daily Tribune de Geneve reported that two of Gadhafi's domestic servants claimed Gadhafi and his wife repeatedly beat them at the hotel with a belt and a hanger. It said a Tunisian woman was hospitalized.

Lawyer Alain Berger said Gadhafi and his wife reject the allegations.

The 32-year-old Gadhafi has had previous run-ins with the law for violent behavior in Paris.

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey called her Libyan counterpart to sharply protest the measures. Switzerland also dispatched a diplomatic delegation to Tripoli "to prevent a crisis between the two countries," the Foreign Ministry said.