Two Libyan families have filed a US civil lawsuit against Haftar and his sons for torturing and killing their relatives.
Before commanding an army entrenched in Libya’s civil war, Khalifa Haftar lived in the US state of Virginia with two of his sons, Khaled and Mustafa.
Lawyers say the military strongman and his sons will now have to answer to US courts, after two Libyan families last week filed a civil lawsuit accusing Haftar’s forces of torturing and killing their relatives.
The lawsuit relies on a law enacted back in 1991, the Torture Victim Protection Act, which allows family members of victims of torture and extrajudicial killing to sue those responsible.
Lawyers say most suits previously filed under the act failed to gain traction, as the majority of those accused had little or no assets in the US which would enable compensation. But Haftar and his sons are American citizens who own 17 properties in Virginia worth a total of $8m, according to the lawsuit.
“Unlike other people who engaged in torture and extrajudicial killing oversees, Khalifa Haftar and his sons are American citizens and own significant amounts of property here,” said Kevin Carroll, a lawyer who represents the families.
“They can and will face American justice,” Carroll said during a news conference on Monday.
The lawsuit alleges that in October 2014, forces loyal to Haftar launched an operation entitled “Operation Dignity” in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, during which they attacked the homes and killed six members of two families, the al-Suyids and the al-Krshinys.
The lawsuit accuses Haftar and his sons of using the Libyan National Army to wage “an indiscriminate war against the Libyan people” and of killing and torturing hundreds “without any judicial process whatsoever”.
Read more via Al Jazeera