Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Malian National Pleads Guilty in 2000 Murder of US Diplomat

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced a guilty plea in the December 2000 murder of diplomat William Bultemeier in Niger. According to the press release, defendant Alhassane Ould Mohamed, also known as “Cheibani,” and a co-conspirator accosted a group of employees of the U.S. Embassy in Niger as they departed a restaurant on December 23, 2000. Using an Ak-47 and a pistol, Mohamed and his partner tried to force Bultemeier to hand over the keys to his vehicle, which had U.S. diplomatic plates. When the embassy’s Marine detachment commander, Staff Sgt. Christopher McNeely, came to Bultemeier’s assistance, they were both shot by the assailants, who proceeded to steal the car. There is a long story behind the oddly delayed guilty plea in this 15-year-old murder case. The Washington Post reported in March 2014 that Mohamed was arrested in Mali just two days after Bultemeier was shot, but escaped in 2002. He was then picked up by Mali police again in 2010, in connection with the killing of four Saudis in Niger. He was extradited to Niger and convicted of the Saudi deaths, receiving a 20-year prison sentence, but he escaped again in 2013, after suspected Islamist militants attacked the prison where he was being held. He was finally caught by the French in Mali, who extradited him to the United States. Mohamed, 46, who is a citizen of Mali, entered his guilty plea at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York. He will be sentenced in April and has agreed to a term of 25 years in prison.



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