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Three Charged With Obstructing Boston Probe

  • RFE/RL

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbaev (left to right) from Kazakhstan pose with Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbaev (left to right) from Kazakhstan pose with Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The three young men charged with obstructing the investigation of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have made their first appearance in a Boston court.

The three have been handed over to U.S. authorities and will be held until at least their next court appearance.

Lawyers for Kazakh nationals Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbaev, both 19, said on May 1 the two suspects had no involvement in the April 15 bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

The pair, described as school friends of Tsarnaev, has been charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by concealing and destroying evidence. Their next court appearance is due on May 14.

The third suspect, U.S. citizen Robel Phillipos, has been charged with making false statements to investigators. His next court appearance is due on May 6.

The three have not been charged with direct involvement in the bombings.

They are accused of removing a backpack and a laptop computer from Tsarnaev's room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth after an exchange of text messages with Tsarnaev.

U.S. authorities say the backpack was filled with fireworks tubes that had been emptied of explosive material.

Authorities say a jar of Vaseline petroleum jelly was also removed from the room because Kadyrbaev thought the substance could have been used "to make bombs."

According to investigators, Kadyrbaev and Tazhayakov took the items back to their apartment and Kadyrbaev threw them in the trash. Police later recovered the backpack from a landfill.

The affidavit says the two Kazakh nationals had concluded from news reports and images released by the authorities that Tsarnaev was suspected of being one of the bombers.

Court papers outlining the charges also say that about a month before the bombings, Tsarnaev told the two Kazakhs that he knew how to make a bomb.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, remains hospitalized with injuries he sustained in shoot-outs with police when he was captured on April 19.

Dzhokar Tsarnaev’s older brother Tamerlan was killed during a shoot-out with police on the same day.

Their mother has said the bombing allegations against the two ethnic Chechen brothers are lies.

Kadyrbaev and Tazhayakov were detained by U.S. immigration services following the bombings on initial allegations of violating their student visas.

The FBI says all three men charged on May 1 were fellow students of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at the University of Massachusetts.

Reports say Kadyrbekov and Tazhayakov face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

Phillipos faces up to eight years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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