Benghazi suspect pleads not guilty at first appearance in US federal court

[JURIST] Ahmed Abu Khatallah [BBC profile] made his first appearance [DOJ press release] on Saturday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] where he pleaded not guilty to a federal terrorism offense arising from his alleged participation in the September 2012 attack on a US facility in Benghazi, Libya. Khatallah was indicted by a federal grand jury on the charge of "conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists, knowing and intending that these would be used in preparation for and in carrying out a killing in the course of an attack on a federal facility, and the offense resulted in death." The attacks occurred on September 11 through September 12, 2012, and resulted in the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. The investigation into Khatallah's involvement is ongoing and the Department of Justice [official website] may bring additional charges as the case continues. "Now that Ahmed Abu Khatallah as arrived in the United States, he will face the full weight of our justice system," said US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile]. "We will prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant's alleged role in the attack that killed four brave Americans in Benghazi." Khatallah, a Libyan national, was taken into custody [JURIST report] earlier this month.

Libya remains politically unstable three years after the 2011 uprising [JURIST backgrounder] and subsequent civil war that deposed former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Earlier this month Libya's Supreme Constitutional Court refused [JURIST report] to accept the appointment of Ahmed Maetig as the country's new prime minister, declaring the nomination unconstitutional. In a May briefing to the UN Security Council, International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda [official profile] said that Libya faces a deep political crisis and serious security challenges [JURIST report], inhibiting its ability to rebuild itself as a modern democratic state. Last August the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed criminal charges [JURIST report] in the deadly attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. The sealed complaint was filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website] against an unspecified number of individuals.

 

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