Malian Man Pleads Not Guilty to Murder of U.S. Diplomat

A Malian man pleaded not guilty in a U.S. court to murder and attempted murder charges stemming from the 2000 killing of a U.S. diplomat and wounding of a Marine during a vehicle theft in Niger.

Alhassane Ould Mohamed, who according to the U.S. was extradited from Mali after being captured by French forces there in November, entered his plea today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York.

The charges against Mohamed “are among the most violent and serious contemplated by the federal criminal code,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Zainab Ahmad told U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak.

In December 2000 Mohamed and an accomplice, who wasn’t named, brandished a pistol and an AK-47 assault rifle at U.S. embassy employees after they left a restaurant in Niamey, the capital of Niger, prosecutors said. Mohamed and the accomplice shot and killed Defense Department official William Bultemeier when he refused to hand over the keys to the embassy’s Toyota Land Cruiser, they said.

U.S. Marine Christopher McNeely, who came to Bultemeier’s aid, was shot and survived, they said. Mohamed and his accomplice fled with the vehicle, they said.

Mohamed escaped in 2002 from Malian authorities and in June fled from a Niger prison, prosecutors said in a letter to Pollak. In Niger, he was serving a 20-year sentence for the murder of four Saudi Arabian nationals killed in a 2009 roadside robbery, according to the U.S.

Pollak ordered Mohamed, 43, held without bail. Mohamed, balding with a graying beard, said little other than entering his not-guilty plea at the hearing.

The case is U.S. v. Mohamed, 13-cr-527, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

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