U.S. court gives Haftar until July 20 to respond to cases against him
Mark Zaid, lawyer of the families suing Haftar for allegedly killing their loved ones in Tripoli, and Qanfouda said they had notified warlord Khalifa Haftar of their intention to take his deposition within 45 days in the civil lawsuit brought against him.
"Court informed him he has until July 20, 2021, to Answer our lawsuit or he will be in default otherwise, he will be considered absent from the hearings of the case," Zaid tweeted out on his account Wednesday, noting that lawyer of former U.S. President Donald Trump Jesse Pinal is representing Haftar in the trial.
Last Thursday, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled that Haftar cannot claim head-of-state immunity as a defense in lawsuits accusing him of atrocities in Libya.
The Associated Press indicated that Haftar is facing three separate federal lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
The lawsuits seek millions of dollars in damages that could be recovered from property that Haftar and his family still own throughout northern Virginia.
According to the website, Haftar asserted earlier in court papers that he is immune to lawsuits because he is head of state. He also said the judge should dismiss the cases because the lawsuit that seeks to indict him is a "political question" that requires deference to the executive branch.
Judge Brinkema indicated during a hearing on July 1 that she asked the U.S. State Department twice if it wanted to confirm its interest in the case, but it refused to do so on the two occasions.
The website noted that Haftar’s lawyer Jesse Binnall, unsuccessfully argued that the State Department’s decision not to intervene should not be seen as resolving the issue.
The situation in Libya is fluid, and the State Department’s failure to assert an interest in the case could be the result of many factors that have nothing to do with whether Haftar is, in fact, a "head of state," the AP quoted Haftar's lawyer as saying.
According to the AP, Brinkema's will not determine the final outcome of the cases. Plaintiffs will still have to prove their allegations at trial and prove that the victims were not armed combatants.