Islamic State ‘Beatle’ faces conviction in US court for killing hostages

Alexanda Kotey, who the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) says is a British national, is seen in this undated handout photo in Amouda, Syria, issued February 9, 2018. Syrian Democratic Forces/Handout via REUTERS

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WASHINGTON, April 29 (Reuters) – A member of an Islamic State militant group dubbed ‘The Beatles’ who beheaded American hostages faces a U.S. judge on Friday who will determine whether to subject him to life. quasi-cellular isolation.

US District Judge TS Ellis in Alexandria, Va., will hold a sentencing hearing for London-born Alexanda Kotey, who pleaded guilty to murdering US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid workers Kayla Mueller and Peter Kassig.

Hostages held by Kotey and his fellow activists nicknamed them “The Beatles” for their British accents. The hearing is expected to include hours of moving testimony from the victims’ family members.

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The charges carry a mandatory life sentence, but Ellis will make a recommendation on Kotey’s correctional facility and whether he should be separated from other inmates in near-segregation.

In a court filing, Kotey’s lawyers urged Ellis to consider Kotey’s acceptance of guilt and his agreement to provide information to US investigators.

US authorities have informed UK officials that prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against Kotey.

Kotey was a citizen of the United Kingdom, but the British government stripped him of his citizenship. His Islamic State cell has taken journalists and aid workers hostage, tortured them and circulated videos of gruesome beheadings on the internet.

Kotey admitted to inflicting torture on hostages, including waterboarding and electric shocks with a stun gun.

Another member of the “Beatles”, El Shafee Elsheikh, was tried last month. After four hours of deliberation, a federal jury in Virginia found Elsheikh guilty of charges of taking a fatal hostage and conspiracy to commit murder.

Ellis is due to sentence Elsheikh in September.

A third Beatles member, Mohammed Emwazi, died in a US-British missile strike in Syria in 2015.

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Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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