Accused Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Friends Hid Damning Evidence, Feds Say

BOSTON (TIP): Three college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were arrested and accused Wednesday, May 1 of removing a backpack containing fireworks emptied of gunpowder and a laptop from Tsarnaev’s dorm room three days after the attack to try to keep him from getting into trouble. In court papers, the FBI said one of them threw the items in the garbage after they concluded from news reports that Tsarnaev was one of the bombers. Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by concealing and destroying evidence.

A third man, Robel Phillipos, was charged with lying to investigators about the visit to Tsarnaev’s room. In a court appearance Wednesday, May 1 afternoon, Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev waived bail and agreed to voluntarily detention. Their next hearing is scheduled for May 14. Phillipos was ordered held pending a detention and probable cause hearing scheduled for Monday. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured on April 15 when two bombs exploded near the finish line. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a gunfight with police days later. His younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, was captured and lies in a prison hospital. Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev, who are from Kazakhstan, have been held in jail for more than a week on allegations that they violated their student visas by not regularly going to class at UMass.

All three men charged Wednesday began attending UMass with Tsarnaev at the same time in 2011, according to the FBI. The three were not accused of any involvement in the bombing itself. But in a footnote in the court papers, the FBI said that about a month before the bombing, Tsarnaev told Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev that he knew how to make a bomb. Investigators have not said whether the pressure cooker bombs used in the attacks were made with gunpowder extracted from fireworks. Meanwhile, Boston bombings suspect Dzhokhar’s hearing has been fixed for May 30. A US court has fixed May 30 for the first hearing of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the lone surviving Boston bombings suspect, during his initial court appearance from the hospital room. The first court hearing would be held in a Massachusetts District court on May 30, the judge ruled yesterday. The 19-year-old Chechen-origin suspect is charged with conspiring to use “weapon of mass destruction”, faces death penalty if convicted by the court.

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