Libya cuts oil supplies to Switzerland over Gaddafi's son's arrest

Libya has halted all of its fuel supplies to Switzerland and barred Swiss ships from its ports in a protest against last week's detention of the son of the Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi in Geneva, media reports said Thursday.

Supplies affected are those transported by ships operated by Libya's state shipping company, Libya's General National Maritime Transportation Company, which says it is the only Libyan-based firm supplying oil to Switzerland.

The oil freeze came as a response to the arrest last week of Hannibal Gaddafi and his pregnant wife in Geneva, following complaints they inflicted physical injuries on two of their domestic staff.

Gaddafi spent two nights in a cell and his wife was detained in hospital before they were released on bail of 500,000 Swiss francs (490,000 dollars). The couple, who left the country after their release, denied harming the two maids.

Employees of the Libyan shipping company have demonstrated outside the Swiss embassy in Tripoli, according to al-Arabiya news channel. About 500 people chanted slogans and distributed flyers calling for an official apology to Gaddafi, his son and all the Libyan people.

In a joint statement with the national port authority, the company also said ships sailing under the Swiss flag had been banned from entering Libyan ports.

The news channel also said that Libya will withdraw its deposits from Swiss banks if an apology for the arrest is not forthcoming.

Gaddafi's youngest son, 32, is the advisor of the state-owned company. He has had previous run-ins with the law for violent behavior in Paris.

Earlier, the Swiss Foreign Ministry voiced concern at what it described as "alarming" retaliatory measures introduced by the Libyan leader in the wake of his son's detention a week ago.

Since last week Gaddafi's government has detained Swiss citizens in Libya, demanded the closure of Swiss firms present in the country and recalled its diplomatic representatives to Switzerland, the ministry said.

Libya has also stopped processing visa requests from Swiss. On Wednesday, it ordered the airline, Swiss, to reduce its flights to Tripoli from three to one a week, dpa reported.

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