A college friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted of hindering a terrorism probe by removing a backpack from the suspect’s dorm room in the first trial stemming from the attack.
A federal jury of seven men and five women in Boston today found Azamat Tazhayakov, 20, guilty of obstruction and conspiracy to obstruct justice, following a trial that included six days of testimony.
Tazhayakov was charged with conspiring with a friend to take Tsarnaev’s computer and a bag containing fireworks casings, a thumb drive and Vaseline from the dorm in the hours after the Federal Bureau of Investigation released surveillance images of him, three days after the bombing. Jurors rejected the government’s claim Tazhayakov was involved in the removal of the laptop.
Prosecutors claim Tazhayakov, who was in the U.S. on a student visa from Kazakhstan, was motivated by his friendship with Tsarnaev, a U.S. citizen originally from Russian’s Dagestan region. Both men are Muslim and speak Russian.
Tsarnaev, 20, is accused of carrying out the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001, in retaliation for the U.S. military’s killing of Muslim civilians. He faces a possible death penalty if a jury finds him guilty at a trial scheduled to start Nov. 3 in Boston.
Two other friends of Tsarnaev are accused of visiting the suspect’s dorm room with Tazhayakov. Dias Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov’s housemate who is also from Kazakhstan, is charged with taking the items. Robel Phillipos, a U.S. citizen, is accused of lying about what he knew about the visit. They will be tried separately.
The double-bombing near the marathon’s finish line on April 15, 2013, killed three people and injured 260. Tazhayakov isn’t accused of assisting in the attack or knowing about it in advance.
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