Sunday 24 September 2017

US bombing suspect pleads 'not guilty' to charges of terrorism

Denise Lavoie Boston

BOSTON Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, his face swollen and his arm in a cast, has pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges.

Mr Tsarnaev (19) smiled crookedly – he appeared to have a jaw injury – at his sisters as he arrived in court.

He looked much as he did in a photo widely circulated after his arrest, his hair curly and unkempt. He appeared nonchalant, almost bored.

DESTRUCTION

He leaned towards a microphone and said: "Not guilty" in a Russian accent to 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill.

He made a kissing motion towards his family as he was led out of the courtroom.

He could get the death penalty if prosecutors choose to pursue it.

The April 15 attack with a pair of pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line of one of the country's most well-known marathons killed three people and wounded more than 260.

Authorities say Mr Tsarnaev orchestrated the attack along with his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died following a shoot-out with police three days after the bombing.

Authorities say the brothers, of ethnic Chechen descent, killed a police officer while they were on the run.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested on April 19 when he was found hiding in a boat in a suburban backyard.

He was initially charged in a hospital where he was recovering from wounds suffered in a police shoot-out.

Prosecutors say Mr Tsarnaev, a Muslim, wrote about his motivations for the bombing on the walls inside the boat where he was captured. He wrote the US government was "killing our innocent civilians".

Mr Tsarnaev's two sisters were in court yesterday. One of them sobbed. His parents remained in Russia.

About a dozen Mr Tsarnaev supporters cheered as his motorcade arrived, yelling: "Justice for Jahar!" as he is known.

One woman held a sign that said: "Free Jahar."

Lacey Buckley (23) said she has never met Mr Tsarnaev but came because she believes he's innocent.

"I just think so many of his rights were violated. They almost murdered an unarmed kid in a boat," she said.

A group of Mr Tsarnaev's friends waited in a queue outside the courtroom for hours, hoping to get a seat.

"Just knowing him, it's hard for me to face the fact that he did it," said Hank Alvarez (19), who called his friend calm, peaceful and apolitical.

"There was nothing sketchy about him," said another friend, 20-year-old Shun Tsou, who added that he had not formed an opinion on Mr Tsarnaev's guilt or innocence.

Meanwhile MIT Police Chief John DiFava, whose colleague was killed, said that in his opinion Tsarnaev just looked "smug."

"I didn't see a lot of remorse. I didn't see a lot of regret," he said.

He went on to say: " It just seemed to me that if I was in that position, I would have been a lot more nervous, certainly scared."

In all there was about a dozen Tsarnaev supporters theycheered as his motorcade arrived, yelling, "Justice for Jahar!" as Tsarnaev is known.

One woman held a sign that said, "Free Jahar."

Irish Independent

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