Two Libyan families filed a civil lawsuit in a US federal court late on Thursday accusing warlord Khalifa Haftar of war crimes, human rights abuses and torture during a 2016-2017 offensive to seize a key Libyan district, Reuters reported.
The complaint, the third filed in a US court against Haftar, is linked to 2016-2017 siege of the Libyan district of Ganfouda – Benghazi, which had been encircled for months as Haftar waged a years-long military campaign to seize control of the eastern city of Benghazi.
The fate of civilians trapped in Ganfouda had been a major point of contention, with the United Nations and international human rights groups calling for them to be granted safe passage amid human rights abuses.
The criminal complaint, filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, seeks compensatory damages from Haftar, who is a US citizen and previously lived in Virginia, according to media reports.
Lawyers for the Libyan families also wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr, calling him to launch criminal proceedings against Haftar.
“Haftar and his forces, which are being supported by countries such as Russia, have been accused of horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity by respected international organizations across the world,” the families’ lawyer said in the letter.
In the complaint, plaintiffs detailed how Haftar’s forces, during their assault on Ganfouda in 2016-2017, repeatedly struck their block by shelling and air strikes, preventing their safe evacuation.