Renegade General Khalifa Haftar has appointed a new legal team to represent him in US judicial proceedings against him, the head of the Democracy and Human Rights Foundation as said.
Emadeddin Muntasser stated that Haftar, who holds American citizenship, hired Harvey & Binnall law firm in Virginia where the Libyan commander is on trial, according to Arabi21.
He added that Haftar’s move came after he tried to stop the trial by ignoring it for a year, but he was forced to hire a defence team after the court threatened him in early 2020 with conviction and tens of millions of dollars in compensation to be paid to his victims.
Muntasser pointed out that “Haftar’s former defence team continued to attend the court sessions until January 8, 2021, when they filed a notice of withdrawal to the court and left the case.”
He added that “the court gave Haftar a new deadline, ending on the evening of 5 February, to appoint a new defence team, and before the deadline’s expiration date, a new law firm submitted a notice to represent their client, Haftar, in the court.”
Muntasser indicated that Haftar was aware that unless he appointed a new lawyer before the deadline, the prosecution lawyers would request the court to issue a judgment in absentia and determine financial compensation, and the case would then inevitably end with a conviction and imposing the payment of compensation to the victims within a few weeks.
A $50 million damages claim lodged in a court in Virginia alleges that Haftar is guilty of war crimes including starvation sieges that forced families to eat grass and tree bark to survive.