By Bernard Vaughan
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors on Wednesday unsealed an indictment of a Malian man they say killed a U.S. Defense Department official in Niger in 2000, and who remains at large.
Alhassane Ould Mohamed shot and killed William Bultemeier with a pistol in the early morning of December 23, 2000, according to the indictment unsealed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.
Prosecutors are offering $20,000 for information that leads to the capture of Mohamed, 42, also known as "Cheibani."
Mohamed and a co-conspirator had stopped Bultemeier soon after he and other U.S. embassy personnel left La Cloche, a restaurant in Niamey, Niger, according to the indictment.
Bultemeier was about to enter a Toyota Land Cruiser bearing diplomatic license plates when Mohamed demanded he turn over the keys, then shot the U.S. official in the chest, according to the indictment.
Mohamed's co-conspirator then used an AK-47 rifle to shoot Bultemeier and Staff Sergeant Christopher McNeely, a U.S. Marine officer at the embassy who had run to Bultemeier's aid, according to the indictment. McNeely survived the shooting but suffered lasting injuries, it said.
Bultemeier had been scheduled to return home to North Carolina later that day, the indictment said.
Mohamed and the co-conspirator fled in the U.S. Embassy vehicle after searching Bultemeier and McNeely's pockets, the indictment said. The car was later found in Timbuktu, in neighboring Mali.
A grand jury in the Eastern District of New York returned a sealed indictment on September 13 charging Mohamed with one count of murdering an internationally protected person and one count of attempting to murder an internationally protected person.
Police in Niger, which launched a manhunt after the attacks, said the attack was criminal, not political.
Mohamed was arrested in Mali days after the attack and detained for murder. He was not formally charged, but remained in custody until 2002, when he escaped, according to the FBI.
He was arrested in 2010 for the 2009 killing of four Saudi Arabians in northern Niger, and sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted. He escaped from prison on June 1, the FBI said.
(Reporting by Bernard Vaughan; Editing by Eddie Evans and Vicki Allen)