Hifter a no-show for deposition accusing him of war crimes

May 9, 2022, 1:51 AM | Updated: 2:50 pm

FILE - Libyan Gen. Khalifa Hifter, whose forces, the self-styled Libyan Arab Armed Forces, now cont...

FILE - Libyan Gen. Khalifa Hifter, whose forces, the self-styled Libyan Arab Armed Forces, now control Libya's east and much of the south, including vital oil fields and terminals, meets with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in Athens, Jan. 17, 2020. Hifter, who lived for decades in northern Virginia, failed to show up for a deposition Monday, May 9, 2022, in a federal lawsuit in which he is accused of war crimes. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)

(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A Libyan military commander who lived for decades in northern Virginia failed to show up for a deposition Monday in a federal lawsuit in which he is accused of war crimes.

Khalifa Hifter had been scheduled to appear for seven hours in a long-sought video deposition where he would be asked about his role in alleged extrajudicial killing and torture of Libyan civilians in the country’s decade-long civil war.

He is a defendant in three separate civil lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. Hifter tried unsuccessfully to have the lawsuits tossed out, claiming immunity as head of state. Then, on the eve of his deposition last year, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema put the lawsuits on pause, saying she wanted to ensure they were not being used to interfere with scheduled elections in the country.

Earlier this year, Brinkema reinstated the lawsuits after the elections were indefinitely delayed.

Hifter’s failure to appear Monday was confirmed by Esam Omeish with the Libyan American Alliance, which supports one group of plaintiffs, as well as by Mark Zaid, a lawyer representing another group of plaintiffs.

Monday was to be the day lawyers in all three cases were to be allowed to question Hifter to gather information relevant to their case. Lawyers met Friday at the federal courthouse in Alexandria to hash out the rules for conducting the deposition.

Over the weekend, though, Hifter said his official duties made it impossible to sit for a deposition and asked for a one-month delay, Omeish said.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said that was unacceptable and said they will seek a default judgment against him for failing to appear.

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, where he and his family continue to own extensive property, 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 date ended last month without success.

Hifter’s lawyer in the U.S., Jesse Binnall, did not immediately return an email Monday seeking comment.

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


Water spills over the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, which runs along the Washington and Ore...

Associated Press

Biden deal with tribes promises $200M for Columbia River salmon reintroduction

The Biden administration has pledged over $200 million toward reintroducing salmon in the Upper Columbia River Basin in an agreement with tribes that includes a stay on litigation for 20 years.

10 hours ago

FILE - Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., arrives for a vote on Capitol Hill, Sept. 6, 2023 in Washington. ...

Associated Press

Sen. Menendez, wife indicted on bribe charges as probe finds $100,000 in gold bars, prosecutors say

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and his wife have been indicted on charges of bribery.

13 hours ago

A man holds an iPhone next to an Amazon Echo, center, and a Google Home, right, in New York on June...

Associated Press

Amazon unveils a ‘smarter and more conversational’ Alexa amid AI race among tech companies

Amazon has unveiled a slew of gadgets and an update to its popular voice assistant Alexa, infusing it with more generative AI features to better compete with other tech companies who’ve rolled out flashy chatbots.

16 hours ago


David Bauder, The Associated Press

Rupert Murdoch, whose creation of Fox News made him a force in American politics, is stepping down

Murdoch inherited a newspaper in Adelaide, Australia, from his father in 1952 and eventually built a news and entertainment enterprise.

1 day ago

FILE - United Auto Workers members walk a picket line during a strike at the Ford Motor Company Mic...

Associated Press

United Auto Workers threaten to expand targeted strike if there is no substantive progress by Friday

The United Auto Workers union is stepping up pressure on Detroit’s Big Three by threatening to expand its strike unless it sees major progress in contract negotiations by Friday.

3 days ago

FILE - The Amazon Prime logo appears on the side of a delivery van as it departs an Amazon Warehous...

Associated Press

Amazon plans to hire 250,000 workers for holiday season

Amazon said on Tuesday that it will hire 250,000 full- and part-time workers for the holiday season, a 67% jump compared to last year.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Hifter a no-show for deposition accusing him of war crimes