Judge sets deadline for Libyan commander to answer questions

National

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A U.S. judge has set a two-week deadline for a Libyan military commander to answer questions in a lawsuit accusing him of war crimes.

Khalifa Hifter, commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army, is a defendant in multiple federal lawsuits in Virginia accusing him of killings and torture in that country’s civil war.

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. He is widely believed to have worked with the CIA during his time in exile.

He still holds U.S. citizenship and still owns extensive property in Virginia.

Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema rejected Hifter’s claims of immunity and allowed the case to move forward.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs are taking depositions in the case and want to depose Hifter as well.

Hifter, though, has sought to block the depositions. In court papers his lawyers argue that requiring him to answer questions would force him to violate Libyan law by disclosing state secrets, subjecting him to a possible death sentence.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema again rejected Hifter’s argument, and set an Oct. 28 deadline for the deposition to take place.

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