Surviving Boston bombing suspect Dzokhar Tsarnaev faces death penalty over weapon of mass destruction charge

Charges brought in hospital but suspect will not be treated as an enemy combatant

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, faces a possible death sentence after being charged with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill three people and injure more than 200.

The 19-year-old, who remains in a serious condition at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre since being captured in the suburban community of Watertown on Friday night, was charged as he lay in his bed. A magistrate judge was present at the time. 

The other suspect, Dzhokhar’s 26-year-old brother Tamerlan, was killed following a police chase in the early hours of Friday morning.

The younger Tsarnaev has been charged with one count of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against persons and property – a reference to the pressure-cooker bombs allegedly deployed at the marathon last week – and one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death, the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, said.

“Although our investigation is ongoing, today’s charges bring a successful end to a tragic week for the city of Boston, and for our country,” said Mr Holder. Officials did not comment on what communication they’d had with the suspect since he was apprehended, although reports have suggested he has answered his interrogators’ questions in writing. He reportedly remains unable to talk after being found with gunshot wounds to his head, neck, legs and hand.

Earlier, interrogators were said to have invoked a public safety exception in order to question Tsarnaev without first informing him of his right to remain silent or to have a lawyer present. Announcing the charges, Carmen Ortiz, the Massachusetts District Attorney, said that “while we not be able to comment on any possible communications between the suspect at this time, as a general rule, the government will always seek to elicit all the actionable intelligence and information we can from terrorist suspects taken into our custody.”

The charges did, however, provide a conclusive answer to another legal question that surfaced over the weekend, namely whether Dzhokhar would be tried within the bounds of the US criminal justice system or whether the government would classify him as an “ enemy combatant," thus denying him some of the rights available in the civilian courts.

“We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney just before the charges were made public.

Over the weekend, Anzor Tsarnaev, the father of the two suspects, said he would fly from Dagestan to the US this week to seek "justice and truth." His wife told the Associated Press that he would fly to Boston tomorrow and that the family wished to take the elder Tsarnaev’s body home  to be buried. Tamerlan visited Dagestan early last year, reportedly evading the attention of the FBI, which had previously questioned him but failed to spot his trip due to a spelling mistake in his name, according to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. The US authorities are now said to be waiting to speak to Tamerlan’s US-born wife, Katherine Russell.

Based on video and photographic evidence collected by the authorities, the criminal complaint recounts how Dzhokhar had allegedly planted the second of the two pressure-cooker bombs that went off last Monday. He is said to have arrived at the site of the second bomb, directly in front of the Forum Restaurant near the Marathon finish line in downtown Boston, and positioned himself “ near the metal barrier among numerous spectators, with his back to the camera, facing the runners. He then can be seen apparently slipping his knapsack on to the ground.”

“Bomber Two [as Dzhokhar is referred to in the complaint] remained in the same spot for approximately four minutes, occasionally looking at his cell phone and once appearing to take a picture with it. Approximately 30 seconds before the first explosion, he lifts his phone to his ear as if he is speaking, and keeps it there for approximately 18 seconds. A few seconds after he finishes the call, the large crowd of people around him can be seen reacting to the first explosion. Bomber Two, virtually alone among the individuals in front of the restaurant, appears calm,” it reads. The suspect is then said to have walked away without his knapsack. “Approximately 10 seconds later, an explosion occurs in the location where Bomber Two had placed his knapsack.”

It also describes how, near midnight on Thursday, a driver heard a tap on his window as he was sitting in his car in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After rolling the window down a man reached in, got into the car with a gun and said: “Did you hear about the Boston explosion?" and "I did that.” He was then forced to drive and pick up a second man. The man with the gun then demanded cash from the victim. One of the men then demanded his ATM card and attempted to withdraw money from the victim's account. The victim escaped when the two men got out of the car at a gas station.

The criminal complaint against Tsarnaev was filed on the same day that 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, one of the three marathon fatalities, was buried in the first funeral since the attack. Boston residents  later marked a minute’s silence at 2.50pm yesterday, around the time the first explosion ripped through the marathon crowd a week ago. 

Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey fans rejoice, series five returns later this month
TV
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Development Manager

Salary/Rate: £32,000/annum: M&E Global Resources Ltd: Description/Main Duties ...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor