US judge rules against Libya’s Hifter in war crimes suits

Jul 30, 2022, 9:37 AM | Updated: 9:39 am

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — A Virginia judge has entered a default judgment against a Libyan military commander after he repeatedly failed to show up for depositions in a federal lawsuit in which he is accused of war crimes.

The exact amount of the judgment against Khalifa Hifter, who spent decades living in the U.S., will be determined at a future date. Because Hifter and his family own extensive property in northern Virginia from his time in the country, according to the plaintiffs, they are optimistic they will be able to collect any judgment that is awarded.

At a hearing Friday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Judge Leonie Brinkema adopted the recommendations of a magistrate who said the plaintiffs should be granted default judgment.

The magistrate’s report cited Hifter’s repeated refusal to sit for scheduled depositions about his role in the fighting that has plagued the country over the last decade.

Three separate lawsuits were filed against Hifter by different plaintiffs. Some say family members were killed by military bombardments conducted by Hifter’s army in civilian areas. Others accuse Hifter’s forces of capturing, torturing and killing family members.

In court papers, Hifter tried to claim immunity from suit as a head of state. After Hifter failed to show up in May for his most recent scheduled deposition, his lawyers filed a motion to withdraw from the case, saying he had stopping communicating with them and stopped paying his legal fees.

Once a lieutenant to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Hifter defected to the U.S. during the 1980s and spent many years living in northern Virginia. according to the lawsuits. He is widely believed to have worked with the CIA during his time in exile.

He returned to Libya to support the anti-Gadhafi forces that revolted against the dictator and killed him in 2011. Over the last decade, he led the self-styled Libyan National Army, which has controlled much of the eastern half of the country, with support from countries including Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

A U.N.-supported government has controlled the capital in Tripoli, with extensive support from Turkey. A cease-fire between the warring sides in 2020 was supposed to lead to elections in December 2021, but they never occurred. Negotiations to set a new election have been unsuccessful. One sticking point has been whether to ban military personnel as well as dual citizens from running for the country’s top post, conditions that would eliminate Hifter as a candidate.

The lawsuits were put on pause last year after Brinkema expressed concerns they would be used to interfere with the country’s presidential elections, in which Hifter was a candidate.

She reinstated the lawsuits when the elections were postponed with no foreseeable rescheduling.

Esam Omeish, president of the Libyan American Alliance, which supports one group of plaintiffs, praised Brinkema’s ruling and said it “should send a clear message to the international community to stop supporting a war criminal and a would-be dictator in any proposed Libyan political settlement.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer speaks inside the Recorders Office, Nov. 9, 2022, in...
Associated Press

Dominion conspiracies highlighted by Fox lawsuit have election officials concerned for safety

Maricopa County officials are bracing for what could happen when it comes time to replace its contract for voting equipment.
1 day ago
A building is damaged and trees are down after severe storm swept through Little Rock, Ark., Friday...
Associated Press

Tornado causes widespread damage to buildings, vehicles in Little Rock

A tornado raced through Little Rock and surrounding areas Friday, splintering homes, overturning vehicles and tossing trees.
1 day ago
FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks with reporters while in flight on his plane after a cam...
Associated Press

Worries grow that Trump indictment could undermine public confidence in other investigations

Trump’s attempts to overturn those results amid false claims of widespread fraud are at the heart of two other ongoing investigations.
1 day ago
(Facebook Photo/Superior Court of Arizona in Yavapai County)...
Associated Press

Arizona judge has cases reassigned following DUI arrest

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that all cases currently assigned to a Yavapai County Superior Court judge recently arrested on suspicion of extreme DUI will be reassigned to other judges.
5 days ago
Haitian migrant Gerson Solay, 28, carries his daughter, Bianca, as he and his family cross into Can...
Associated Press

US, Canada to end loophole that allows asylum-seekers to move between countries

President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced a plan to close a loophole to an immigration agreement.
8 days ago
Expert skateboarder Di'Orr Greenwood, an artist born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and...
Associated Press

Indigenous skateboard art featured on new stamps unveiled at Phoenix skate park

The Postal Service unveiled the “Art of the Skateboard" stamps at a Phoenix skate park, featuring designs from Indigenous artists.
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
US judge rules against Libya’s Hifter in war crimes suits