“I express to the Libyan people my apologies for the unjust arrest of Libyan diplomats by Geneva police,” Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz said at a joint news conference in Tripoli with Baghdadi Mahmudi, the Libyan prime minister.
Unjust? Or just “unseemly and unnecessary”? “Ungebührlich und unnötig” is the original term used by the Swiss finance minister and it actually translates as “politically uncorrect” in this context. “Unjust” is the wrong translation conveyed by certain news agencies and welcomed furthermost but not exclusively by the Arab news world.
The dispute with Switzerland began when Hannibal Ghadaffi and his pregnant wife Aline were arrested in a Geneva hotel in July 2008 on charges of mistreating two domestic employees. Armed police forced open their hotel suite after being alerted to repeated altercations. Hannibal Gadaffi and his wife, along with the Libyan state, had then filed a civil lawsuit against the Geneva authorities in a Geneva court. The couple were released on bail after two days, and charges against them were dropped in September after the servants withdrew their complaint, having reached a financial arrangement with Hannibal according to “Swissinfo” (April 9, 2009). Nevertheless, relations between the two countries continued to be strained with Libya taking a number of retaliatory measures against Switzerland which included the arrest and later release of two Swiss nationals who were refused permission to leave the North African country up until this day. The foreign ministry says one of them is unwell and has appealed to the Libyan government to allow the citizens to leave the country on humanitarian reasons.
It is ironic that one year later, the Swiss President calls this legally correct arrest “unseemly and unnecessary” and delivers this public apology to killers. Who will now protect the Swiss against further “diplomatic” provocations? Wasn’t just this apology unjust and unnecessary?