Two Kazakh nationals were indicted by a grand
jury Thursday on charges of obstructing justice in the investigation
of the Boston Marathon bombings, the US Department of Justice said.
Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both 19, allegedly destroyed evidence by disposing of the backpack of the surviving suspect in the bombings, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The backpack allegedly contained empty fireworks shells and Tsarnaev's laptop computer.
The men were charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstructing justice with the intent to impede the Boston Marathon bombing investigation.
The two men were in the US on student visas and had been enrolled at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth along with Tsarnaev, an immigrant from Russia who had become a naturalized US citizen.
Last month Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to charges that he carried out the bombings on April 15 at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding more than 250. Dozens of wounded people underwent amputations of one or even two legs due to shrapnel from the home-made bombs.
Tsarnaev's older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a chase by police in the days afterward. He was wounded by police and run over by the car in which Dzhokhar was trying to flee the shootout.
The Justice Department said that Kadyrbayev received a text message from Dzhokhar asking him to go to his "room and take what's there."
The two men fetched the backpack, and one of them later put it in a garbage bag and dumped it into a trash bid outside their New Bedford, Massachusetts, apartment, the Justice Department said.
Officials noted that they took the actions after the FBI had identified the Tsarnaev brothers as the main suspects and publicly circulated photographs of them.
The Kazakh students face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of obstruction of justice and five years on the conspiracy charge. They could also pay a hefty fine of 250,000 dollars and be deported.
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