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Iran Press TV

Libya militant leader pleads not guilty in Benghazi attack

Iran Press TV

Sun Jun 29, 2014 9:34AM GMT

A Libyan militant leader who has been charged with masterminding the 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi has pleaded not guilty before a US court.

Ahmed Abu Khatallah was transferred to the District Court in Washington on Saturday. He had been held in a warship since being arrested on June 15 by the US Special Operations Forces in Libya.

Khatallah was charged at the court hearing with conspiracy to supply material support to militants for the attack that killed US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans.

He reportedly listened to the proceedings through an interpreter and raised his right hand before public defender Shelli Peterson entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf.

A leading prosecutor said the US Justice Department could bring further charges against Khatallah during the investigation into the September 11, 2012, attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.

The US State Department identified Khatallah as a top leader of Ansar al-Sharia group in Libya and he was arrested by US commandos near Benghazi two weeks ago. Khatallah could face the death penalty.

Meanwhile, Libya's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Said al-Saoud, said on June 18 that the US forces violated Libya's sovereignty when they seized Khatallah.

Libya's Justice Minister Saleh al-Marghani also said Ahmed Abu Khatallah should be returned to Libya.

"We had no prior notification.... We did not expect the United States to upset the political scene," Marghani said, adding that Libya has the right to try the suspect on its soil in conformity with its law.

SAB/HJL/SS



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