World News

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Police wait to quiz Boston suspect

Published 20/04/2013|23:06

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People attend an interfaith service held near a makeshift memorial on Boylston Street, near the finish line of the Boston Marathon (AP)

Boston-area residents are coming together in prayer and reflection after a tumultuous week as the lone surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing lay in hospital under heavy guard apparently in no shape for interrogation.

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What Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will say and when are unclear. He remains in serious condition, two days after being pulled bloody and wounded from a tarp-covered boat in a Watertown backyard.

The capture came at the end of a tense Friday that began with his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, dying in a gun battle with police. There was no immediate word on when Tsarnaev might be charged and what those charges would be. The twin bombings killed three people and wounded more than 180.

The most serious charge available to federal prosecutors would be the use of a weapon of mass destruction to kill people, which carries a possible death sentence. Massachusetts does not have the death penalty.

US officials said an elite interrogation team would question the Massachusetts college student without reading him his Miranda rights, which guarantee the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer. Such an exception is allowed on a limited basis when the public may be in immediate danger, such as instances in which bombs are planted and ready to go off. ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said the legal exception applies only when there is a continued threat to public safety and is "not an open-ended exception" to the Miranda rule.

The federal public defender's office in Massachusetts said it has agreed to represent Tsarnaev once he is charged. Miriam Conrad, public defender for Massachusetts, said he should have a lawyer appointed as soon as possible because there are "serious issues regarding possible interrogation". But Republican Representative Mike Rogers told NBC's Meet the Press that he is not worried that the government has decided against reading the suspect his rights. Mr Rogers, a former FBI agent, said there is so much evidence against the suspect that a conviction should be easy.

Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick said that surveillance video from Monday's Boston Marathon attack shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev dropping his backpack and calmly walking away from it before the bomb inside it exploded.

"It does seem to be pretty clear that this suspect took the backpack off, put it down, did not react when the first explosion went off and then moved away from the backpack in time for the second explosion," Mr Patrick told NBC television. "It's pretty clear about his involvement and pretty chilling, frankly."

Meanwhile, the Boston police commissioner said that investigators believe the two suspects were likely to have been planning other attacks, based on the cache of weapons uncovered. Ed Davis told the CBS Face The Nation programme that authorities found an arsenal of homemade explosives after Friday's gun battle. "We have reason to believe, based upon the evidence that was found at that scene - the explosions, the explosive ordnance that was unexploded and the firepower that they had - that they were going to attack other individuals," Mr Davis said. "That's my belief at this point."

The scene of the gun battle was loaded with unexploded bombs, and authorities had to alert arriving officers to them and clear the scene, Mr Davis said. One improvised explosive device was found in the Mercedes the brothers are accused of carjacking, he said. "This was as dangerous as it gets in urban policing," he added.

Press Association

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