Two former UMass-Dartmouth students with ties to Boston Marathon terror bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were indicted today on obstruction of justice charges for allegedly trying to impede the Boston Marathon terror bombing investigation.
Kazakhstan nationals Dias Kadyrbayev, 19, and Azamat Tazhayakov, 19, are accused of helping to get rid of incriminating evidence that Tsarnaev left behind in his college dorm room on April 18, three days after the terror bombing killed three and wounded 260 in Boston.
The two face charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice. They are to be arraigned at 2 p.m. Tuesday in US District Court in Boston.
According to US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office, the two acted after Tsarnaev sent them a text message telling them they could go to his dorm room and “take what’s there.’’ The indictment, unsealed today, includes the text of the message Tsarnaev sent.
“If yu [sic] want yu [sic] can go to my room and take what’s there but ight [sic] bra [sic] Salam aleikum,’’ Tsarnaev texted to his friends.
The two students allegedly collected Tsarnaev’s laptop, fireworks, and a backpack and took them to their apartment in New Bedford.
Later that night Kadyrbayev, with what prosecutors called Tazhayakov’s “knowledge and agreement,’’ put the items in a garbage bag and put them in a dumpster at the apartment. They were later recovered by law enforcement after several days of searching a New Bedford dump.
The two were already in custody, facing a May 1 criminal complaint charging them only with conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Kadyrbayev’s attorney, Robert G. Stahl, said in a statement that his client was disappointed he was indicted, especially since he cooperated with the FBI and was so forthcoming about what he knew that the FBI was able to recover the items they were searching for.
“Even though he was literally stunned and in fear [when Tsarnaev was identified as a bomber], and even though he is from a country where the police are routinely distrusted, from the moment the authorities approached him he has cooperated fully,’’ Stahl wrote.
He added, “despite the rush to judgment and, now, the present charges, Dias trusts the American justice system and looks forward to proving his innocence at trial.’’
The lawyer also said that his client and his client’s family was shocked and saddened by the terror bombing and the loss of life it caused.
Supporters have described what Tsarnaev’s friends allegedly did as the innocent act of devoted friends. In the indictment unsealed today, the two men are not charged with conspiring with Tsarnaev.
In the statement announcing the indictment today, prosecutors referred to a third person, whom they did not identify by name.
Robel Phillipos was a third friend of Tsarnaev who has been accused of lying to FBI agents investigating the disposal of evidence. Phillipos has not been indicted. His attorney, Derege B. Demissie, filed paperwork today saying negotiations to resolve Phillipos’s case have been ongoing with Ortiz’s office.
Tsarnaev, 20, and his brother, Tamerlan, allegedly set off two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon April 15, killing three people and wounding more than 260. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was shot and killed by police later that week, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into custody following a massive manhunt that shut down greater Boston. The two brothers are also accused of killing an MIT police officer.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is currently being held without bail and is facing multiple federal charges, including several that could bring the death penalty.
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