Today marks the deadline given to Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar by which he must respond to civil litigation in the United States or face default.
In three separate lawsuits, a district court in Alexandria, Virginia has levied charges of war crimes against the leader of the Libyan National Army, which opposed the UN-recognized government in the country’s bloody civil war. The plaintiffs have alleged that Haftar is responsible for extrajudicial killings and torture and seek to recover an estimated $50 million in damages from assets in Virginia owned by Haftar, who is a dual-citizen in the US.
Although Haftar claims that his status as a head of state grants him legal immunity, a US district judge rejected the assertion earlier this month, foreshadowing a ruling that will likely go against the general. While it is unclear if Haftar himself will directly respond, his defense will likely focus on the difficulty of attributing responsibility for atrocities committed during the civil war and claiming that alleged victims were armed combatants. A guilty verdict is unlikely to significantly detract from efforts to form a new administration in Libya as the UN has maintained Haftar’s inclusion in negotiations as a crucial figure with influence over armed groups opposed to the Western-backed government.
Ali is a Copy-Editor and Analyst on Daily Brief team, contributing regularly to the Daily Brief. He also leads the Foreign Brief Week in Review multimedia team. He focuses on political and development issues in the Middle East and North Africa.