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Justice Department will not seek death penalty for Benghazi attack

Ahmed Abu Khattala is charged with 18 crimes for allegedly leading the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, which led to the deaths of four Americans.

By
Stephen Feller
A burnt building is seen at the United States consulate, one day after armed men stormed the compound and killed the U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others in Benghazi, Libya, on September 12, 2012. The U.S. Department of Justice said the complexities of the trial for the man accused of planning the attacks resulted in officials dismissing the possibility of the death penalty. File Photo by Tariq AL-hun/UPI
A burnt building is seen at the United States consulate, one day after armed men stormed the compound and killed the U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others in Benghazi, Libya, on September 12, 2012. The U.S. Department of Justice said the complexities of the trial for the man accused of planning the attacks resulted in officials dismissing the possibility of the death penalty. File Photo by Tariq AL-hun/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, May 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Justice said it will not seek the death penalty in its prosecution of the man accused of leading the 2012 attack on diplomatic and CIA facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

Ahmed Abu Khattala, 54, faces charges for the attacks, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, but officials decided against the death penalty based on the complexities of the trial, The Washington Post reported.

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Prosecutors allege Abu Khattala organized the attacks on the facilities and have charged him with 18 crimes, including several charges for the deaths of American officials -- U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, among them -- during the attacks on Sept. 11 and 12, 2012.

While many terror suspects strike plea deals before getting to trial, Abu Khattala has pushed for a trial rather than admit to wrongdoing.

In addition to concerns about the death penalty aired by President Barack Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, experts said the case is exceedingly complex and may prove to be difficult if the government seeks to call on Libyan militants.

"The department is committed to ensuring that the defendant is held accountable for his alleged role in the terrorist attack on the U.S. Special Mission and annex in Benghazi that killed four Americans and seriously injured two others, and if convicted, he faces a sentence of up to life in prison," Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said, according to CNN.

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