Libyan 'militant' stands trial for US ambassador's murder

Libyan 'militant' stands trial for US ambassador's murder
A Libyan man accused of being behind an attack on a US consular compound in Benghazi which led to the death of a envoy is to stand trial on Monday.
2 min read
01 October, 2017
Libya's consular killings dealt a blow to at the heart of Washington's political scene [AFP]

A Libyan man is set to stand trial for the killing of a US ambassador in Benghazi along with other charges.

Ahmed Abu Khattala will defend 18 counts of murder, supporting terrorists and other charges at a federal district court in Washington.

Khattala - who was commander of the Ansar al-Sharia militia - was captured by US special forces three years ago and sent to Washington to stand trial for an attack in eastern Libya in 2012.

He is accused of being the mastermind of a raid of 20 militants on the US compound in Benghazi, starting a fire that consumed a building killing ambassador Christopher Stevens and a foreign service officers. 

Before that, they allegedly killed two US security contractors close to the diplomatic mission.

The deaths tainted Hillary Clinton during her bid to become president, serving as foreign minister at the time.

Khattala has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but the case against him was stalled due to challenges on how he was brought to the US and the evidence obtained during two interrogations.

He was detained on a navy ship for two weeks and underwent five days of interrogation by intelligence agents.

A Washington court ruled against his lawyers' motion to suppress evidence obtained during the 13 days on-board the US naval vessel that they argued violated his rights.

They said intelligence agents interrogated him without informing him of his rights to remain silent, know the charges against him, and have a lawyer present.

His lawyers also argued that the lengthy 13 day trip by ship back to the US was planned from him without legal protections.

Judge Christopher Cooper ruled that in August that fact interrogators repeatedly advised Khattala of his rights to have a lawyer present and to remain silent.

Cooper said he had "knowingly and intelligently" waived these rights.

"Abu Khattala was treated humanely and courteously: He was given breaks every hour or two, and offered snacks and refreshments," the judge said.

"The sheer number of times Abu Khattala waived his Miranda rights - once in writing and twice verbally on each typical interview day - is further evidence of the waivers' voluntariness."