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Libyan militant convicted of four sentenced to 22 years allegations of terrorism his involvement in the 2012 Benghazi attack is “unreasonably low,” a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
Ahmed Abu Khatallah, 51, was convicted on four counts in 2017, including providing material support to terrorists and destroying US property, but was acquitted on the most serious charges.
Four Americans were killed in attack on the US diplomatic complex and the CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya, September 7. 11, 2012.
According to prosecutors, the sentencing guidelines state that Khatalla should have been sentenced to 30 years in prison, up to life in prison.
On Tuesday, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled that 22 years in prison is not a term for Khatallah “in view of the seriousness of such an attack on a US diplomatic establishment and the district court’s own recognition of the vital need to prevent such crimes.”
“In sentencing Khatallah to only twelve years on two counts of supporting terrorism and destroying property, the district court did not – and could not in this record – adequately justify its additional deviation well below the range of a sentence that would have been appropriate even without any or consideration of justifiable conduct,” the panel of three judges wrote.
Khatalla petitioned for a mistrial both before and after the verdictthen appealed his sentence in 2020, but prosecutors cross-appeal.
The Court of Appeal sent Khatalla into custody for a review of the sentence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.