U.S. won’t seek death penalty against Libyan charged in Benghazi attack

Special to WorldTribune.com

U.S. prosecutors have announced they will not seek the death penalty against a Libyan terrorist charged in the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans.

Ahmed Abu Khatallah, captured by U.S. special forces two years ago, is facing an 18-count indictment over the Sept. 11, 2012 killings at an American diplomatic and intelligence compound.

Ahmed Abu Khatallah
Ahmed Abu Khatallah

Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said on May 10 that U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch reached the decision to drop the death penalty after consultation with prosecutors.

“The department is committed to ensuring that the defendant is held accountable,” Pierce said in a statement.

Khatallah now faces a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.

“We believe this was the correct decision and are pleased that the attorney general made the decision on the merits without political considerations,” the defendant’s lawyer, Eric Lewis, told AFP.

Khatallah, who has pleaded not guilty, in charged with murder of an international protected person – U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens – providing material support to terrorists and destroying U.S. property by causing death.

Also known as Ahmed Mukatallah or simply “sheikh,” Khatallah was identified by the U.S. State Department as a senior leader of Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan terrorist group responsible for a spate of attacks and assassinations.