Boston bombing: Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to appear in public for first time since 2013

Three people died and more that 260 others were injured in the attack

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The Independent US

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon, is to make his first public appearance in one and a half years, as he prepares to face court.

Tsarnaev, 21, was arraigned in July 2013. At the time, he still showed the signs of the bloody shootout with police several days after the attack on 15 April, when three people died and 260 others were injured.

The bloody standoff ended in his capture and the death of his older brother, Tamerlan.

The brothers had set off two bombs which exploded near the finish line of the marathon. Tsarnaev, who has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges, faces the possibility of the death penalty if he is convicted.

Security surrounding the federal courthouse in Boston is tight for today’s final pre-trial conference, which Tsarnaev's lawyers said he would attend.

At least one victim who lost a leg in the bombings, Marc Fucarile, arrived at court early today, while protesters, who want to ensure Tsarnaev gets a fair trial, stood outside court.

The hearing is the last before jury selection begins on 5 January for a trial which is expected to last several months.

On Thursday, prosecutors and defence attorneys are expected to discuss the jury selection process with the judge. Both sides have submitted questions they want the judge to ask potential jurors, who will be selected from a pool of at least 1,200 people. Seating a jury alone could take several weeks to a month.

A defence motion to move the trial out of Boston also is still pending.

Earlier this month, Tsarnaev's lawyers argued anew that "emotionally charged" media coverage and the widespread impact of the attacks have made it impossible for him to get a fair trial in Massachusetts.

US District Judge George O'Toole Jr. rejected Tsarnaev's first request in September to move the trial, ruling that Tsarnaev's lawyers had failed to show that extensive pretrial media coverage of the bombings had prejudiced the jury pool to the point that an impartial jury could not be chosen in Boston.

Tsarnaev's lawyers previously said the trial should be moved to Washington, DC.

O'Toole also rejected a defense request that prosecutors turn over evidence about his older brother's possible participation in a 2011 triple killing in suburban Waltham.

Additional reporting by AP