The Department of Justice revealed in a court filing that it will not seek the death penalty for Ahmed Abu Khattala, identified by prosecutors as the ringleader of the Benghazi attack. The 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi had killed the United States ambassador and three other Americans.
The spokesperson of the Justice Department Emily Pierce, said that attorney general Loretta Lynch had reviewed the case and consulted with federal prosecutors before making the decision. She said, the department is "committed to ensuring that the defendant is held accountable" for the attacks, AP reported.
If found guilty, the maximum sentence he will serve is life in prison. The attorneys asked the Justice Department to remove the death penalty as an option should he be convicted of other capital crimes in the trial.
Eric Lewis, one of his attorneys told the news agency, "It was a decision that was the correct decision, but was also a courageous decision — so we're pleased."
Abu Khattala was caught by the US special forces in Libya two years ago and brought to the US by a navy ship and has been awaiting trial in Washington.
He pleaded not guilty to charges that include murder of an internationally protected person, providing material support to terrorists and destroying US property while causing death. In 2015, he failed in seeking the dismissal of his case; he had also requested the court to send him back to Libya, which was denied.
The attacks took place on two different American diplomatic compounds on the night of 11 September 2012, the first of which happened in the main compound and killed the ambassador J Christopher Stevens and US Foreign Service information officer Sean Smith. A few hours later, a mortar fire attack took place in the CIA annex, which killed CIA contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone S Woods.
Dzohkhar Tsarnaev was the last person in the US who was sentenced to death by a federal jury for the Boston Marathon Bombings.