Saturday 25 January 2020

US bomb suspect's three friends charged in probe

Jon Swaine New York and Raf Sanchez Washington

Three friends of the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect have been charged with disposing of his laptop and the remnants of his bomb-making equipment to hinder the FBI's inquiry into the attack.

The 19-year-old university classmates of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were due to appear in court in Boston last night, after being arrested on suspicion of obstructing justice and making false statements.

When one sent a text message to Tsarnaev to say he looked like a suspect in FBI wanted posters days after the bombings, he replied "LOL", (laugh out loud), the criminal complaint against them disclosed.

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, Kazakhstani students who attended the University of Massachusetts with Tsarnaev, also 19, were re-arrested after being held over alleged visa infringements.

Mr Tazhayakov and Mr Kadyrbayev had appeared in court earlier yesterday charged with staying in the US illegally on student visas despite having dropped out of the University of Massachusetts.

The court heard that Mr Tazhayakov should not have been allowed back into the US on January 20 after a trip to Kazakhstan. The fact that he was not intercepted "doesn't make any sense," said the judge.

False

They were accused of disposing of "a laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks" belonging to Tsarnaev, to impede the inquiry into the bombings, which killed three and injured more than 200.

The third suspect was named as Robel Phillipos, a US citizen who had not previously been arrested as part of the inquiry into the April 15 attack. He was charged with making false statements to FBI investigators.

Robert Stahl, an attorney for Mr Tazhayakov and Mr Kadyrbayev, told reporters that both his clients planned to plead "not guilty".

A lawyer for the third suspect could not immediately be identified.

The criminal complaint alleges that Mr Kadyrbayev sent the text message soon after the FBI released photographs of their prime suspects, not yet named as Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, on April 18.

Tsarnaev responded with messages including "LOL", "you better not text me" and "come to my room and take whatever you want", according to the complaint.

Mr Tazhayakov and Mr Kadyrbayev face up to five years in prison or a fine of $250,000 (€190,000) if convicted. Mr Phillipos faces up to eight years in prison or the same fine. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

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