Yesterday, three college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were arrested and accused of trying to protect him by going into his dorm room and getting rid of a backpack filled with hollowed-out fireworks three days after the deadly attack.
The three 19-year-olds were not accused of any role in the bombing but in a footnote in the court papers outlining the charges, the FBI said that about a month before the tragedy, Tsarnaev told two of them that he knew how to make a bomb.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, both of whom went to the US from Kazakhstan, were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by concealing and destroying evidence. Robel Phillipos, who graduated from a Cambridge high school with Tsarnaev, was charged with lying to investigators about the visit to Tsarnaev’s room.
According to the FBI account, just hours after surveillance camera photos of the Boston Marathon suspects were flashed around the world, Tsnarnaev’s friends suspected he was one of the bombers and removed the backpack along with a laptop from Tsarnaev’s room at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
One of them later threw the backpack in the garbage, and it wound up in a landfill, where it was discovered by law enforcement officers last week, authorities said. In the backpack were fireworks that had been emptied of their gunpowder.
At a court appearance, the Kazakh students did not request bail and will be held for another hearing 14th May 2013. Robel Phillipos was held for a hearing on Monday. If convicted, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov could get up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Robel Phillipos faces a maximum of eight years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.