Libyan militant is convicted of terrorism in Benghazi attacks but is acquitted of murder
A Libyan militia leader was convicted Tuesday in Washington, D.C., on terrorism charges in the 2012 Benghazi attacks, but he was acquitted of murder.
Jurors convicted Ahmed Abu Khattala on four charges in the attacks and acquitted him on 14 other charges, report the Washington Post and the New York Times. He had been described as the accused ringleader.
U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in the attacks.
Khattala was not spotted on surveillance video during the attacks, but he appeared after the fighting was over, according to the Times. Prosecutors argued Khattala had helped plan and aid the attacks, even if he did not fire any shots or set any fires. They cited Libyan cellphone records showing Khattala was in contact with his militia members, deeming them a “hit squad” who carried out the attacks.
Defense lawyers had claimed Khattala was a bystander and questioned the credibility of Libyan witnesses who were Khattala’s enemies. One of the witnesses, a Libyan businessman, received $7 million after collecting information on Khattala and luring him to a villa where he was captured by U.S. commandos.
After Khattala’s capture, he was interrogated for days on a U.S. Navy ship. Defense lawyers claimed the interrogation had violated Khattala’s due process rights and his statements should be suppressed.
U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper denied the defense motion and said the government had treated Khattala “respectfully and humanely while in custody,” the Washington Post reported in August.