RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The former prime minister of Somalia is asking a federal appeals court in Richmond to rule that he can't be sued over alleged war crimes.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Court of Appeals heard arguments in Mohamed Ali Samantar's case Wednesday.
Samantar was a top official in dictator Siad Barre's regime. He left Somalia after the regime's collapse in 1991 and eventually settled in Fairfax County. In 2004, he was sued by several Somalis who claimed they suffered brutal repression, including torture and mass killings, under the regime.
Samatar's attorney told the appeals court that a judge in Alexandria improperly acquiesced to the State Department's view that Samantar is not entitled to immunity.
An attorney for the plaintiffs said the department's conclusion is entitled to great deference.