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Maltese workers fear they will not be replaced if they leave Libya

The eldest son of Libayan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Hannibal (L), shakes hands with jailed Swiss businessman Max Goeldi at Al-Jadaida prison on the outskirts of Tripoli. (AFP)

The eldest son of Libayan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Hannibal (L), shakes hands with jailed Swiss businessman Max Goeldi at Al-Jadaida prison on the outskirts of Tripoli. (AFP)

Maltese workers currently working in Libya are having to extend their stay for as long as their visa allows because they fear that their replacements will not be allowed into the country, Maltese Embassy officials were told during a meeting yesterday.

The meeting was convened by the embassy in Tripoli and brought together representatives of the most important Maltese employers in Libya.

Ambassador George Cassar said his offices were available to help all Maltese and was the embassy was seeking information on all Maltese working in Libya.

He also gave an overview of the current situation and said that hardly anyone from Schengen area countries, including Malta, was now being allowed into Libya, whatever type of visa they held.

Those present agreed with the ambassador's request to give the embassy a list of their workers in Libya and others who intend going there.

The crisis erupted when Libya stopped the visas of all travellers from Schengen area countries in retaliation for a Swiss decision to blacklist a group of 180 senior Libyan officials. Switzerland is a member of the Schengen area, and its decision means no Schengen country may issue visas to those people.

Earlier today, Hannibal Gaddafi, the Libyan leader's son, met in jail a Swiss businessman who has been detained in Tripoli since Hannibal himself was briefly arrested in Geneva.

"I am happy for this occasion which enabled me to meet you, and I hope that justice takes its course and things are remedied," Max Goeldi told Hannibal.

The Swiss national met with Hannibal at Al-Jadaida prison in the presence of his lawyer and several journalists, before retiring to another room to speak in private.

In a brief comment to journalists, Goeldi said he hoped that Hannibal would "use his influence" to help him leave Libya.

Goeldi, who is serving a four-month sentence for immigration offences, was arrested in July 2008 together with another Swiss businessman, Rashid Hamdani.

Their arrest came four days after Hannibal and his pregnant wife were detained by Swiss police over allegations they mistreated two servants at a Geneva hotel.

Tripoli denies that the Swiss arrests are in any way related to the Geneva incident.

Last month, Hamdani was allowed to leave Libya, while Goeldi began serving his shortened prison term.

Last week Libya's leader called for a jihad, or holy war, against Switzerland and Muslim economic boycott of the country.

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