Warlord Khalifa Haftar can not claim head-of-state immunity in respect to lawsuits accusing him of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Libya, a U.S court ruled on Thursday.
According to the Associated Press, Khalifa Haftar faces three separate lawsuits filed in a U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Northern Virginia.
The lawsuits seek millions of dollars in damages that could be recovered from property Hafter and his family own throughout northern Virginia.
Haftar’s defense insisted earlier, in court papers, that their client is immune to lawsuits because he is "head of state" and called on the judge to dismiss the cases because the lawsuit that seeks to indict him is a “political issue” that requires deference to the executive authority.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled in Thursday's session that Haftar cannot claim either head-of-state immunity or the political question doctrine as a defence in the lawsuits.
She further noted that she twice asked the State Department if it wanted to assert an interest in the case, but it refused to do so on both occasions.
However, Brinkema's ruling does not determine the outcome of the cases, as plaintiffs still have to prove their allegations at trial and refute claims of Haftar that the victims were involved in armed hostilities in Libya, according to the same source.
The case now moves into a fact-finding stage that will likely include the testimony of Khalifa Haftar himself.