Three friends of one of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings were charged Wednesday with interfering with the investigation after the attack.
The three were identified as friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who has been charged with carrying out the bombings along with his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26. The younger brother was a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, the same school attended by the three people charged with helping him after the bombings, according to authorities.
The friends were identified in a federal complaint as Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both 19-year-old students from Kazahkstan, and Robel Phillipos, also 19. The two Kazakh students were accused of “knowingly destroying, concealing, and covering up” a laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks that belonged to Tsarnaev. Phillipos was charged with lying to federal investigators.
The two Kazakhs have been in the United States on student visas and attended the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth along with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Phillipos. The two Kazakhs were taken into custody April 20 on charges of violating their visas.
According to the affidavit, shortly after the FBI released photographs and video of the two bombing suspects late on the afternoon of April 19, the three friends went to Tsarnaev’s room at UMass-Dartmouth. While they were there, Tsarnaev sent a text message to Kadyrbayev saying, “I’m about to leave if you need something in my room take it.”
They noticed a backpack containing fireworks that had been opened and emptied of explosive powder. “Kadyrbayev knew when he saw the empty fireworks that Tsarnaev was involved in the marathon bombing,” said Cieplik.
Kadyrbayev later told the FBI that he removed the fireworks “in order to help his friend,” and that he also took Tsarnaev’s computer and a jar of Vaseline that he thought might have been used to make bombs, according to the complaint. All three later decided to throw the backpack and computer into a dumpster near the apartment shared by Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov in New Bedford, Mass., according to the complaint. The affidavit said that Kadyrbayev put the material into the dumpster.
Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev face maximum sentences of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Phillipos faces a maximum sentence of eight years and a $250,000 fine, prosecutors said.
At a brief initial appearance this afternoon in US District Court in Boston, Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev waived their right to a bail hearing. They will appear in court again May 14. In a separate hearing, Phillipos also waived his right to a bail hearing. Another hearing was slated in his case for Monday.
Phillipos’s attorney, Derege Demissie, said Phillipos had nothing to do with the actions of Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev and had simply made a “misrepresentation” to authorities.
F.B.I. investigators have continued to focus on Tamerlan Tasarnaev’s widow, Kathryne Russell, to see if she played any role in in the attack or in helping him and his brother try to cover up their actions, knowingly or unknowingly.