[JURIST] Libyan militant Ahmed Abu Khatallah [USA Today profile] on Monday pleaded not guilty to 17 charges related to the September 2012 attack [WP backgrounder] on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, including some charges that warrant the death penalty. Prosecutor Michael DiLorenzo suggested that the government may file additional charges against other defendants. When US District Judge Christopher Cooper asked if additional defendants would be charged, DiLorenzo only said that the investigation was ongoing. The charges against Khatallah include the murder of an internationally protected person and killing a person during an attack on a federal facility involving the use of a firearm. In June Khatallah pleaded not guilty in federal court on a federal terrorism offense after being captured [JURIST reports] that same month. The next hearing is scheduled for December 9.
Libya remains politically unstable three years after the 2011 uprising [JURIST backgrounder] and subsequent civil war that deposed former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. In June Libya’s Supreme Constitutional Court refused [JURIST report] to accept the appointment of Ahmed Maetig as the country’s new prime minister, declaring the nomination unconstitutional. In a May briefing to the UN Security Council, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that Libya faces a deep political crisis and serious security challenges [JURIST report], inhibiting its ability to rebuild itself as a modern democratic state. in August 2013 the US Department of Justice filed criminal charges [JURIST report] in the attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi. The sealed complaint was filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington against an unspecified number of individuals.