Boston marathon bombing
The three, two students from Kazakhstan and a U.S. citizen, were described as college friends of surviving bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. They were not charged with direct involvement.
Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and two more suspects. Photo: EITB
U.S. authorities on Wednesday charged three men with interfering with the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing, saying they hid fireworks and a backpack belonging to one of the suspected bombers as a manhunt was under way.
The three, two students from Kazakhstan and a U.S. citizen, were described as college friends of surviving bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. They were not charged with direct involvement in the April 15 marathon bombings, which killed three people and injured 264.
But three days after the blasts, the trio moved swiftly to cover up for their friend when the FBI released pictures of the suspected bombers, made a public plea for help locating them and conducted a day-long manhunt that left much of Boston on lockdown, according to court papers.
Authorities charged the two Kazakhs, Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, both 19, with conspiring to obstruct justice by disposing of a backpack containing fireworks they found in Tsarnaev's dorm room. The third man, Robel Phillipos, also 19, was charged with making false statements to investigators.
In their initial court appearances on Wednesday, none of the three entered a plea. After the proceeding, an attorney for Kadyrbayev denied wrongdoing. "Dias Kadyrbayev absolutely denies the charges," said attorney Robert Stahl. "He did not know that this individual was involved in the bombing. His first inkling came much later."
Tsarnaev, who attended the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, is being held at a prison hospital where he is recovering from wounds sustained in a gun battle with police. His older brother, Tamerlan, died in the gunfight.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov face up to five years in prison and Phillipos faces a maximum sentence of eight years.
Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos were placed in the custody of U.S. Marshals after prosecutor Stephanie Siegmann argued that all three presented a "serious risk of flight."
None of the suspects addressed the court, other than to respond to the judge's questions. U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler reprimanded Phillipos for not seeming to pay attention to the proceedings. "I suggest you pay attention to me rather than looking down," Bowler said.
The three suspects' attorneys said their clients were shocked by the attacks. "My client, Azamat Tazhayakov, feels horrible and was shocked to hear that someone that he knew ... at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth was involved with the Boston
Marathon bombing," attorney Harlan Protass said.
Phillipos' attorney, Derege Demissie, said that his client had not assisted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. As to the charge of making false statements, he said, "We look forward to litigating that in court."