Death Penalty Ruled Out for Benghazi Suspect

"The department is committed to ensuring that the defendant is held accountable..."

The Department of Justice has announced it will not seek the death penalty for the chief suspect in the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were murdered in the attack.

The government announced its intentions in a filing with the U.S. district court.

"After reviewing the case information and consulting with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the attorney general has determined that the Justice Department will not seek the death penalty,'' Justice spokeswoman Emily Pierce said. "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.''

The suspect, Ahmed Abu Khatallah, is charged in an 18-count indictment. He is currently awaiting trial. 

Khatallah was captured by U.S. special forces at his home south of Benghazi in 2014. He appeared in court two weeks later with former Attorney General Eric Holder arguing, "We will prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant's alleged role in the attack that killed four brave Americans in Benghazi."

The suspect has pled not guilty.