US Judge Dismisses Lawsuits Against Libyan Commander

An American court has dismissed several civil cases filed against a former Virginia resident and Libyan military commander who was accused of murdering innocent people during the civil war in his own country.

Despite the defendant, Khalifa Hifter, having U.S. citizenship and having lived in the northern Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital for over 20 years as an exile from Moammar Gadhafi’s regime, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema stated at a Friday court hearing that she lacked the authority to preside over a case accusing war crimes perpetrated in Libya.

Hifter was subject to a default judgment by Brinkema in 2022 due to his refusal to appear for planned depositions on his involvement in the country’s ongoing conflict.

However, after hiring new attorneys, Hifter got the court to reopen the case and agree to a deposition. He denied planning attacks on innocent people in two different depositions that took place in 2022 and 2023.

By the 1980s, Hifter had fled to the United States from his position as a lieutenant under Gadhafi. Many people think that when he was in exile, he collaborated with the CIA.

He went back to Libya in 2011 to provide his assistance to the rebels who overthrew Gadhafi and murdered him. With the help of nations like Russia, Egypt, and the UAE, he guided the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army during the civil war, which took control of a large portion of eastern Libya. Across the country’s eastern half, he maintains his influence.

Claiming that members of their family were slain in civilian areas bombarded by Hifter’s army, the plaintiffs initially filed the complaints in 2019.

According to the cases, Hifter and his family own substantial amounts of Virginia real estate, which might have been used as collateral for a judgment against him.

In court documents, Hifter attempted to assert his immunity from the lawsuits as the head of state. Hifter was a contender in the upcoming presidential elections in Libya, and the court temporarily halted the cases out of concern that they were being used to influence those elections. As time went on, those elections were rescheduled.