News Column

Accused Boston Bomber Says 'Not Guilty'

July 10, 2013

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev spokes publicly for the first time Wednesday in a federal court in Boston amid heavy security, entering a not guilty plea on all 30 charges against him.

Judge Marianne Bowler asked Tsarnaev, dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, to stand and answer "not guilty" himself to the charges, which he did. His left forearm was in a cast, and he rubbed his chin and his mouth repeatedly with his other hand.

Earlier, Tsarnaev, 19, yawned and slumped in his chair at the defence table, as one of his lawyers patted him on the back and at one point rubbed his shoulder. As he left the courtroom, Tsarnaev blew a kiss to women believed to be his sisters.

About 30 victims and relatives of people wounded or slain in the April marathon bombings were present for the arraignment.

Prosecutors said they expected to call 80 to 100 witnesses in a trial that they projected would last three to four months. An initial status hearing was set for September 23.

Outside the courthouse, a line of news cameras stretched for blocks, and campus police officers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Boston university, stood at attention in memory of Sean Collier, a colleague killed in the alleged crime spree that followed the bombings.

"It's our system in motion. The wheels are now turning," said Boston police superintendent Dan Linskey, according to a tweet by a Boston Globe reporter.

The April 15 bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured more than 250.

The most serious charges against Tsarnaev are use of weapons of mass destruction and bombing a public place resulting in death. Tsarnaev is accused of leaving a bomb along the marathon route and helping his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, plant a second device, according to the indictment.

Seventeen of the charges carry maximum penalties of death or life in prison.

A number of survivors, including many who lost limbs in the bombing, attended the arraignment. Tsarnaev himself was gravely wounded during a firefight with police the night before he was captured.

The indictment against Tsarnaev provides details about jihadist propaganda, including al-Qaeda terrorist network publications found on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's computer and bomb-making supplies that the brothers ordered on the internet. The bombs were made from household pressure cookers.

Tsarnaev faces additional firearms charges related to the death of Collier.

That shooting, which occurred four days after the bombing, set off a chase and manhunt across the Boston region. The brothers later tried to carjack a driver, which set off a firefight in which they shot at officers and threw explosives, the indictment said.

The wounded elder Tsarnaev had been captured and handcuffed by police when Dzhokhar drove over him, contributing to his death, the indictment said.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was discovered hiding inside a small boat dry-docked behind a house. Authorities say he left a confession in which he justified the bombings as vengeance for US military action in Muslim countries.

As he lay bleeding, he wrote that the US government is "killing our innocent civilians."

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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