May 3, 2010 3:05 PM | By Sapa-AP
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was quoted as saying that Switzerland is behaving like a criminal organization and it is involved in money laundering, assassinations and terrorism.
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Muammar Gaddafi Photograph by: MAHMUD TURKIA Credit: AFP
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In the latest instalment of a long-running dispute between the two nations, Gaddafi called Switzerland a “mafia” state and repeated a previous call for it to be divided up among France, Italy and Germany, according to the interview published by German news weekly Der Spiegel.
“Switzerland is a state that stands apart from the world community,” the respected Hamburg-based magazine quoted him as saying.
Gaddafi said Switzerland was a haven for large scale money laundering where laws allowing assisted suicide are used as a cover for the assassination of rich foreigners with Swiss bank accounts.
“Switzerland claims the people in question wanted to commit suicide. But in truth it was a means of getting hold of their money,” Der Spiegel quoted Gaddafi as saying. He offered no evidence for this claim.
The magazine also said the Libyan leader accused Swiss authorities of carrying out an “act of terrorism” by arresting his son Hannibal Gaddafi two years ago on suspicion of beating up his servants in a Geneva luxury hotel. He was later released and charges were dropped.
“The way they treated Hannibal proves that Switzerland doesn’t respect any laws,” Gaddafi was quoted as saying.
Swiss officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, but Gaddafi’s accusations risk inflaming tensions between Switzerland and Libya that erupted following the son’s arrest in July 2008.
The two countries have been engaged in a diplomatic tit-for-tat since the incident, culminating in Libya’s arrest of two Swiss businessmen and the withdrawal of all investments from Switzerland.
Bern, in return, tried to prevent high-ranking Libyan officials from obtaining visas to Europe until forced to back down by Italy and other European countries with strong economic ties to the North African nation.
One of the Swiss businessmen, Rachid Hamdani, was allowed to leave Libya in February after 19 months detention. The other, Max Goeldi, was sentenced to a four-month prison term which ends in June. Human rights group Amnesty International has called the charges against Goeldi a form of political revenge and criticized the length of his pre-trial detention.