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Benghazi Suspect to Face New Indictment, Prosecutors Say

Benghazi Attack Suspect Trial
Benghazi attack suspect Ahmed Abu Khatallah, in center wearing a headset, gets sworn in during a hearing at the federal U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on June 28, 2014. Source: Dana Verkouteren via AP Photo

Ahmed Abu Khatallah, who’s accused of leading the 2012 assault on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed, will face a new indictment, a prosecutor said.

Khatallah is charged with conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists resulting in death, a crime that carries a possible life sentence. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael DiLorenzo said today in federal court in Washington that the government expects to bring a new indictment of the Libyan, without specifying how the charges against him might change.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper scheduled another hearing for Sept. 9 and ruled that because of the complexity of the case he won’t apply the time until then to the countdown that ensures a defendant gets a speedy trial.

Khatallah’s attorney, Michelle Peterson, a public defender, didn’t object to Cooper’s decision. Peterson said she is still awaiting government delivery of evidence needed to plan a defense.

Cooper, who joined the federal bench in March, disclosed that his wife had been a supervisor in the section of the Justice Department bringing the case against Khatallah, having left that post in January 2008.

No Conflict

Cooper, saying he doesn’t view his wife’s former job as presenting a conflict, said he wanted to go on record regarding the connection so the defense is aware of it.

Khatallah, who is about 43, pleaded not guilty on June 28 and and in a July 2 hearing didn’t contest his confinement pending a review of the government’s evidence against him.

The current charge against Khatallah was contained in a June 26 indictment, which superseded charges in a July 2013 criminal complaint that included killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility, an offense that is punishable by death.

Khatallah was named a “specially designated global terrorist” by the U.S. State Department in January and was described at the time as a senior leader of Ansar Al Sharia in Benghazi, which the U.S. designated as a terrorist group.

The attack he’s accused of leading on Sept. 11 and 12, 2012, killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens; Sean Smith, a State Department official; and two Central Intelligence Agency contractors, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

Khatallah was seized in Libya in a U.S. special operations raid June 15 and held on a naval vessel offshore until he was flown to Washington for his initial court appearance.

The case is U.S. v. Khatallah, 14-cr-00141, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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