US judge postpones Haftar lawsuit over election concerns

US judge postpones Haftar lawsuit over Libya election disruption concerns
2 min read
10 November, 2021
A judge has postponed a lawsuit against Khalifa Haftar until after the Libyan elections, which are set to take place on 24 December.
Khalifa Haftar is hoping to run in Libya's upcoming elections [Getty]

A US judge has postponed a lawsuit against Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar until after the Libyan presidential elections, which are set to take place on 24 December.

Judge Leonie M. Brinkema made the decision on the basis that she was concerned “this litigation is being used to influence Libya’s fragile political situation”.

At a 3 December hearing, attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the case will ask the judge to reconsider.

Haftar, who has lived in the US state of Virginia and owns property there, is being targeted in civil lawsuits by relatives of people they claim were killed by his forces. They are seeking damages and their legal teams see his assets in Virginia as possible sources of remuneration.

Judge Brinkema decided to put a hold on three lawsuits after an incident involving the case of Ibrahim al-Krshiny, who says he and his family were targeted by Haftar’s forces in 2014.

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In the attack, two of his relatives died of gunfire, two of his brothers died and al-Krshiny was taken captive and tortured. He lost an eye.

During his deposition, representatives of Haftar demanded to know the identity of who helped al-Krshiny prepare. Al-Krshiiny's representatives said revealing those details would put those involved and in Libya in danger, while the defendants argued they were entitled to that information.

In the end, Brinkema ruled they could ask for a name but not a location, prompting al-Krshiny’s attorney’s to contact the judge several times asking to change the ruling on the basis that the individual worked for a human rights group and was not a witness in the case.

“The email and phone call are not only improper, they are extremely troubling,” Brinkema wrote, according to The Washington Post.

“It is now clear that this litigation is too closely entwined with the elections in Libya. It is therefore not appropriate to continue expending judicial resources until the political situation in Libya is more stable.”

The attorney who made the call, said he "sincerely regrets" that he did not follow proper procedures, and went on to add "the plaintiffs are not affiliated with the Libyan government...this is not a political case but a war crimes action."