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Saturday 19 October 2019

Police: Bomb suspect burial legal

Flowers are placed on the alleged burial site of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev (AP)
Flowers are placed on the alleged burial site of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev (AP)
The body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been buried in Virginia (AP/Lowell Sun/ Julia Malakie)

The burial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev appears to be legal, police said, after his secret burial in Virginia.

The news that Tsarnaev had been buried on Thursday in a rural Islamic cemetery north of Richmond, hundreds of miles from his Massachusetts home shocked some in the community, including officials who said they had not been informed.

But Caroline County sheriff Tony Lippa said officials had looked at the paperwork and the interment appeared legal. But he warned that his small department lacked the money and staff to provide a round-the-clock presence at the cemetery. "The Sheriff's Office will offer the same amount of protection - no more and no less - to this site as any other cemetery in Caroline County," Sheriff Lippa said.

The body of Tsarnaev, 26, an ethnic Chechen from Russia, had remained at a Massachusetts undertakers since he was killed on April 19 in a gunfight with police, days after the bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260.

Cemeteries in several states refused to accept the remains and with costs to protect the undertakers mounting, police appealed for help finding a place to bury him.

The woman whose actions led to Tsarnaev being buried in Virginia said the anger from local officials, some cemetery neighbours and online critics had been unpleasant, but she had no regrets. "I can't pretend it's not difficult to be reviled and maligned," Martha Mullen said. "But any time you can reach across the divide and work with people that are not like you, that's whatGod calls us to do."

Ms Mullen said she was at a coffee shop when she heard a radio news report about the difficulty finding a burial spot for Tsarnaev. "My first thought was, Jesus said love your enemies," she said. "I thought someone ought to do something about this - and I am someone."

Ms Mullen, a mental health counsellor and seminary graduate, sent emails to various faith organisations to see what could be done. She heard back from Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia, which arranged for a funeral plot at the Al-Barzakh cemetery. "It was an interfaith effort," she said.

Ms Mullen, a member of the United Methodist Church, said she was motivated by her own faith and that she had the full support of her pastor. "Nobody is without sin," she said. "Certainly this was a horrific act, but he's dead and what happened is between him and God. We just need to bury his body and move forward. People were making an issue and detracting from the healing that needed to take place."

Some local officials have expressed concern that the grave site could become a target for vandals and a shrine for those who sympathise with Tsarnaev.

PA Media

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