2 friends of accused Boston Marathon bomber charged with obstruction
Two friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, accused of bombing the finish line area of the Boston Marathon, have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of hindering the investigation into the attack.
Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both Kazakhstan nationals, were charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstructing justice, U.S. Atty. Carmen Ortiz in Boston announced on Thursday.
The men were originally charged in a criminal complaint on May 1.
If convicted, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov, both 19, face up to 20 years in prison on the obstruction of justice count and up to five years in prison on the conspiracy count, as well as a $250,000 fine. Both also face the possibility of being deported, if convicted.
The pair, who are currently in federal custody, went to the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth in 2011, as did Tsarnaev, 19. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov had entered the United States on student visas and were living in New Bedford, Mass., during the bombing on April 15.
Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when two pressure-cooker bombs exploded along the finish line area on Boylston Street.
On the evening of April 18, the FBI released photographs and surveillance video of the two suspects, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, as part of an intense manhunt that shut down the metropolitan Boston area. According to the indictment, Kadyrbayev, after the release of the images, received a text message from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev suggesting that he go to Tsarnaev’s college dormitory “room and take what’s there.”
Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov, and another person then went to Tsarnaev’s dormitory room and removed several items, including Tsarnaev’s laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks. Later that night, Kadyrbayev, with Tazhayakov’s “knowledge and agreement,” placed Tsarnaev’s backpack, which contained several items including fireworks, in a garbage bag, and put it in a trash dumpster outside their New Bedford apartment, according to the indictment.
In the statement announcing the indictment, prosecutors referred to a third person, whom they did not identify.
However, the person is Robel Phillipos, who has been accused of lying to FBI agents investigating the aftermath of the bombing. Phillipos has not been indicted and in court papers filed Thursday indicated that his attorney and the government were in negotiations to deal with his case.
Phillipos is under home confinement and must wear an electronic bracelet, federal officials said. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was shot and killed by police during the manhunt.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into custody after he was found in a boat in the backyard of a house in Watertown, Mass.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is currently being held without bail on federal charges that include using a weapon of mass destruction. If convicted on the most severe charges, he could be sentenced to death.
On July 10, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to 30 charges in his first public court appearance, including a murder charge for MIT police officer Sean Collier, who was killed when the brothers tried to flee.
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