Judge sets deadline for Libyan commander to answer questions

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

Khalifa Hifter, commander of the so-called Libyan National Army, is indicted in several federal trials in Virginia, accusing him of murders and torture in that country’s civil war.

Once a lieutenant of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Hifter defected to the United States in the 1980s and spent many years living in northern Virginia. It is widely believed that he worked with the CIA during his exile.

He still holds US citizenship and still owns extensive properties in Virginia.

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

Lawyers for the plaintiffs are taking depositions in the case and also wish to file Hifter.

Hifter, however, sought to block the depositions. In court documents, his lawyers claim that forcing him to answer questions would force him to violate Libyan law by disclosing state secrets, which would subject him to a possible death sentence.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema on Thursday again rejected Hifter’s argument and set October 28 as the deadline for deposition.

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