US will not seek death penalty for man accused of orchestrating 2012 Benghazi attack

Published May 11th, 2016 - 05:30 GMT
The aftermath of the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. (AFP/File)
The aftermath of the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. (AFP/File)

The US justice department announced today it will not seek the death penalty in its prosecution of the man accused of leading the 2012 attack on diplomatic and CIA facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

Ahmed Abu Khattala, 54, will be charged with the attacks, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, but officials decided against the death penalty based on the complexities of the trial, the Washington Post reported.

Prosecutors allege Abu Khattala organized the attacks on the facilities and have charged him with 18 crimes, including several charges for the deaths of American officials -- U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, among them -- during the attacks on Sept. 11 and 12, 2012.

While many terrorism suspects strike plea deals before getting to trial, Abu Khattala has pushed for a trial rather than admit to wrongdoing.

In addition to concerns about the death penalty aired by President Barack Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, experts said the case is exceedingly complex and may prove to be difficult if the government seeks to call on Libyan militants.

"The department is committed to ensuring that the defendant is held accountable for his alleged role in the terrorist attack on the US Special Mission and annex in Benghazi that killed four Americans and seriously injured two others, and if convicted, he faces a sentence of up to life in prison," Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said, according to CNN.

By Stephen Feller

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