NOUAKCHOTT (Reuters) - A Mauritanian prosecutor on Monday requested the death penalty against three alleged members of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, suspected in the murder of American NGO worker Christopher Leggett in June 2009.
The suspects, Mohamed Abdallahi Ould Ahmednah, Sidi Mohamed Ould Bezeid and Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Khouna, have all denied the charges.
Leggett, 39, was working for an NGO called Noura and was the director of a language and computer school in Nouackchott, the capital of the north African country.
Al Qaeda’s branch in North Africa (AQIM) had claimed responsibilty for the killing, saying they shot Leggett because he was trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.
Mauritania is among several countries in the Sahara region where al Qaeda-linked fighters have raised their profiles with a series of attacks and kidnappings.
AQIM grew out of the militant Salafist movement in Algeria and has moved south where it is taking advantage of the vast and lawless desert sahel regions of Mauritania, Mali and Niger.