WASHINGTON (AP) — A Libyan militant was indicted Tuesday on new charges arising from the 2012 Benghazi attacks, including crimes punishable by the death penalty, the Justice Department said.
The new 18-count grand jury indictment, which includes multiple counts of murder, had been widely expected since Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured in June by U.S. special forces and brought to the United States to face trial.
Abu Khattala, 43, the first militant to be prosecuted for the Benghazi violence, had initially been charged with conspiracy to provide support to terrorists, resulting in death.
U.S. officials had described the initial, one-count indictment as a placeholder to allow for him to be brought into court and for a grand jury to hear more evidence of the case.
The new indictment includes multiple counts that make Abu Khattala eligible for the death penalty if convicted, including murder of an internationally protected person and killing a person during an armed attack on a federal facility.
Federal prosecutors accuse Abu Khattala of being a ringleader of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The new indictment reflects what Attorney General Eric Holder described as Abu Khattala’s “integral role in the attacks.”
After his capture during a nighttime raid, Abu Khattala was brought to the U.S. aboard a Navy boat where he was interrogated by federal agents. He was flown by military helicopter to Washington and remains in custody at a detention facility in Alexandria, Virginia.
One of his public defenders, Michelle Peterson, said in court last summer that prosecutors had not presented evidence tying him to the attacks.
On Tuesday evening, she declined to comment about the indictment because she had not seen it.
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