US-Libyans sue Khalifa Haftar over civilian deaths near Tripoli

Written by on June 29, 2019

Libya‘s renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar is being sued in the United States for war crimes by families who lost relatives in the ongoing conflict between his forces and the UN-recognised government.

The lawsuit was filed at the District Court of Alexandria in Virginia by Libyan families who say their loved ones were killed when Haftar’s forces bombed neighbourhoods outside the capital, Tripoli. 

Abdulhakim Tunalli, 59, is the brother of Msaddek Tunalli who was killed outside Tripoli during an offensive by Haftar’s troops as they tried to capture the city.

According to the lawsuit, Msaddek Tunalli was helping people evacuate Tripoli when he was killed in the bombing. His death is one of three this year explicitly cited in the lawsuit.

Abdulhakim Tunalli, who is not a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that his brother and others had successfully evacuated the neighbourhood and were on their way out themselves when they became trapped by the shelling.READ MORE

Profile: Khalifa Haftar

“Basically what Haftar did – attacking Tripoli, bombing civilians randomly – they killed women and children. And they don’t care,” Abdulhakim said.

Faisal Gill, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the victims’ families, said Haftar is essentially a “warlord” who uses the battle against “Islamic extremism” as an excuse to grab power and try to consolidate control of the country.

Haftar was once a lieutenant to Libya’s former longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi but defected during the 1980s and spent many years in Virginia, eventually becoming a US citizen.

Gill said the next step in the lawsuit will be to serve notice on Haftar, either in the US or in Libya.

The lawsuit seeks $125m in damages.

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