The Head of the Libyan American Alliance, Esam Omeish, said the US federal judge, Leonie Brinkema, has issued a decision to freeze the court proceedings in the lawsuits lodged by victims’ families against Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar at the US District Court of Virginia, saying the freezing of the process is to be in place till after Libya elections, pending a further notice of resumption.
According to a legal document seen by Libya Alahrar TV, federal Judge Brinkema said the Libyan government pressed the court to rule against Haftar and may have coordinated efforts with one of the plaintiff’s attorneys.
“These communications appear to lend support to the defendant’s argument that this litigation is being used to influence Libya’s fragile political situation,” judge Brinkema wrote in the order halting the lawsuits.
The court order described how Brinkema and another judge presiding over Haftar’s cases were sent an email outside of proper legal channels by an individual claiming to represent Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNU), saying the email, sent on 2 November, requested the court overturn an earlier order permitting Haftar’s legal team to ask the identity of individuals providing evidence.
The judge said that Haftar’s side made similar improper moves as well, referring to correspondence from the Defense and National Defense Committee of the Libyan House of Representatives asking to give immunity to Haftar against answering victims families’ questions within the lawsuits.
“It is now clear that this litigation is too closely intertwined with the elections in Libya,” Brinkema stated, saying it is therefore not appropriate to continue expending judicial resources until the political situation in Libya is more stable.
Omeish said the court decision was surprising but came as a result of legal and administrative mistakes by representatives of the GNU and the inaccurate legal proceeding of one of the victim families’ lawyers, adding that they will continue to follow up on the lawsuits to get them back in the court.