U.S. judge throws out lawsuits accusing Libya’s Khalifa Haftar of war crimes

U.S. judge throws out lawsuits accusing Libya’s Khalifa Haftar of war crimes
Photo: Libyan General Khalifa Haftar in 2023 / Courtesy: US Department of State

A U.S. judge has dismissed a series of civil lawsuits aimed at Libya’s Khalifa Haftar that allege he perpetrated war crimes during Libya’s civil war. During that time, Khalifa was head of the Libyan National Army, which controlled much of the eastern part of the country. 

The judge tossed the cases out on a technicality. She claimed it wasn’t within her jurisdiction to preside over a case alleging crimes in Libya. This despite the fact that Haftar is an American citizen and lived in the country for more than 20 years. 

The ruling marks a reversal for Haftar. The same judge entered a default judgement against Haftar in 2022 after he refused to appear for depositions in the case. He later hired new lawyers and convinced the judge to reopen the case. In 2022 and 2023 he appeared for two depositions claiming his innocence.

Plaintiffs in the case dispute his claims. They say he orchestrated attacks on their family members in civilian areas. Lawyers for the plaintiffs told the Associated Press they plan on appealing the dismissal. 

The court decision comes at a time when hopes are running high that Libya will form a unified government to usher in an election in the deeply divided country.  

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