Maltese worker kidnapped in Libya freed

2014-07-29 15:29
A masked Libyan gunman stands on a street in the eastern city of Benghazi. (Abdullah Doma, AFP)

A masked Libyan gunman stands on a street in the eastern city of Benghazi. (Abdullah Doma, AFP)

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Valletta - A Maltese worker who was abducted by Libyan rebels on the outskirts of Tripoli on 17 July has been freed and arrived home safely in Valletta on Monday, authorities said.

Martin Galea, aged 40, a health and safety professional who worked for an oil and gas company, appeared to be in good health but was taken to hospital for a thorough examination.

"I don't have words to thank all those who helped in whatever way to save my life", Galea said after being welcomed home by his wife and friends.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who also met Galea at the airport, said no ransom had been paid for his release.

"No ransom was sought from the Maltese government and so we paid no ransom. It is possible that his employer was asked for a ransom at some point, but no money was paid. I can assure you of that", Muscat told reporters on the tarmac.

Libyan militia who snatched Galea as he was on his way to work initially held him in the east of the troubled country.

The Maltese government said Galea was then moved several times and may even have been taken to Tunisia for part of his nearly two weeks in captivity.

"Several versions were given to us, and there are still some unanswered questions. We will see if we can fill in these blanks once the secret services have questioned [Galea]", Muscat said.

Libya has been awash with weapons since the end of the 2011 uprising against Moamer Kadhafi and has been gripped by increasing lawlessness.

Violent clashes between rival militias have been raging since mid-July, prompting the United States and major EU states to call Monday for a ceasefire.

Diplomats in Tripoli say militias often carry out kidnappings to blackmail countries into releasing Libyans they hold.

Previous abductions this year saw a Tunisian diplomat and an embassy staffer kidnapped, as well as the Jordanian ambassador in a separate incident.

Read more on:    eu  |  malta  |  libya  |  abductions  |  north africa
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