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Americas

Boston Marathon bombing suspect charged in hospital

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-05-30

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged Monday with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, the US justice chief said. It is the most serious federal charge Tsarnaev was facing and one that could carry the death penalty.

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arraigned in his hospital bed on Monday, charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, said a statement from US Attorney General Eric Holder.

The charge is the most serious federal charge Tsarnaev was facing and one that could carry the death penalty.

The White House said on Monday that Tsarnaev would be tried in US civilian courts, rejecting calls from Republican lawmakers that he be declared an “enemy combatant”, which would allow for him to be held in military detention and questioned without a lawyer.

Tsarnaev is a naturalised American citizen and, under US law, citizens cannot by tried by military commissions, the White House said.

Tsarnaev is accused of taking part in the April 15 bombings at the marathon’s finish line that killed three people and wounded more than 180 others.

A look at the brothers suspected in the Boston bombing

He is being treated at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital for what may have been a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the mouth that exited the back of his neck, Police Commissioner Ed Davis said on CBS’s “60 Minutes” programme on Sunday.

The 19-year-old was expected to face federal as well as state charges in connection with the bombings and the fatal shooting of a university police officer on Thursday.

Investigators are looking into a trip to Russia made last year by his older brother and fellow bombing suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died Thursday. The inquiry is focusing on whether Chechen separatists or Islamist extremists may have influenced or trained the siblings.

Though it was initially reported that 26-year-old Tamerlan had been killed in a shootout with police on Thursday night, Watertown's police chief, Ed Deveau, told the “Boston Globe” newspaper that Dzhokhar may have mortally injured his older brother, running him over in a car as he fled capture.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was apprehended in Watertown on Friday evening after a 22-hour manhunt put the city of Boston into lockdown. He was eventually found hiding in a tarp-covered boat being stored at a local residence.

Davis said investigators had discovered at least four undetonated devices, one of them similar to the two pressure cooker bombs set off at the Boston Marathon, and that he believed the suspects were planning more attacks.

FBI under fire

As the search continues for answers regarding the motive for the bombings, the FBI has come under fire for failing to follow up sufficiently on warnings from Russia about the elder Tsarnaev’s activities.

Thermal image released by the Massachusetts State Police Air Wing, shows the boat and Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on April 19, 2013.

When the brothers were identified, the FBI said in a statement that it had reviewed its records and found that in early 2011, a foreign government had asked for information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev “based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups”.

Officials later confirmed the foreign government was Russia.

The FBI said it interviewed Tamerlan and some family members at the time, but did not find “any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign”.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was also tracing the suspects’ weapons to try to determine how they were obtained.

The brothers had lived in the United States for over a decade but originally came from Russia's wartorn Caucasus region of Chechnya. Their father, Anzor, was born in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, which is where Tamerlan and Dzhokhar spent much of their youth.

Anzor told the AP on Sunday that he plans to travel to the United States this week to seek “justice and the truth”. He has previously said that he thinks his sons were framed for the bombings.

A week after the marathon bombings, Boston planned to mark the end of a traumatic week with a moment of silence for the victims.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has asked residents to observe a moment of silence at 2:50 pm (6:50pm GMT) on Monday, the time the first of the two bombs exploded near the finish line. Bells will ring across the state after the minute-long tribute to the victims.

A private funeral was scheduled Monday for Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant worker killed in the explosions last week. A memorial service will be held Monday at Boston University for 23-year-old Lu Lingzi, a graduate student from China.

An 8-year-old boy, Martin Richard, also died in the blasts.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-04-22

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