Suspects’ Friend Accused of Hindering Boston Bombing Inquiry

May 30, 2014

BOSTON — A citizen of Kyrgyzstan who federal prosecutors said bought dinner for the two brothers accused of the Boston Marathon bombing on the night of the attack was charged Friday with obstructing the investigation into the bombing.

Investigators said the Kyrgyzstani man, Khairullozhon Matanov, a 23-year-old taxi driver who lives in Quincy, Mass., had social ties to the suspects in the bombing, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, according to court documents, but lied to investigators about aspects of that friendship and of his communication with the brothers in the days following the bombing.

Mr. Matanov was charged in Federal District Court with four total counts of destroying, altering and falsifying records, documents and tangible objects in a federal investigation, and making false statements in a federal terrorism investigation.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, was charged last summer in a sweeping federal indictment in connection with the bombings, which killed three people and wounded more than 260. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed after being shot by the police and run over by his brother during a manhunt.

Mr. Matanov and Tamerlan Tsarnaev had become friends, the indictment said, discussing religion and even climbing a mountain in New Hampshire “in order to train like, and praise, the ‘mujahedeen,’ ” which is a term referring to those who struggle on behalf of Islam, and can also refer to specific Islamic militant groups.

The indictment may shed new light on the actions of the Tsarnaev brothers in the days after the bombings.

Investigators said that Mr. Matanov saw Tamerlan Tsarnaev at least twice after the bombings, and bought both brothers dinner at a restaurant on April 15, hours after the bombs went off, but lied to officials about how that dinner came about. He is not charged with participating in the bombings and is not accused of knowing about them ahead of time. Mr. Matanov told a friend the bombings might have been justified if they were in the name of Islam, according to the indictment.

Mr. Matanov will be held by federal marshals until a detention hearing scheduled for Wednesday. If convicted on all four counts, he could face up to 44 years in prison.

Book planned on burial of marathon bombing suspect

BOSTON — After Peter Stefan offered to handle funeral arrangements for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, he was besieged by criticism, picketers and angry phone calls from people who called him a “traitor” and “un-American.”

A year later, Stefan is writing a book about his experience.

“I just wanted to put down exactly what happened and what I felt like. I got loads of threats,” Stefan said Wednesday.

“But you can’t just bury people who are on the straight and narrow. What are you going to do with the rest of them? We’re not barbarians here. We bury the dead.”

Stefan, the owner of a Worcester funeral home, said he still feels disturbed by the reaction he got when he agreed to take the remains of Tamerlan Tsarnaev last year after a funeral home in North Attleborough, where the body was initially sent, was picketed by protesters.

Stefan’s funeral home was also picketed and it took days to find a cemetery willing to bury the remains. Tsarnaev was finally buried in a Muslim cemetery in Doswell, Va.

Stefan said he did not accept payment for his services but asked, instead, for a contribution to a fund he set up five years ago to help low-income people pay for their prescription drugs and co-pays for doctor visits. Tsarnaev’s uncle contributed $1,500 to the fund, Stefan said.

The funeral director said he has been working on the book for a few months and is currently negotiating with a publisher. He hopes the book — tentatively titled “Last Rites for the Boston Marathon Bomber” — will be published this summer. Stefan’s plans for the book were first reported by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Twin bombings at the April 15, 2013, marathon killed three people and injured more than 260. Authorities say Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, built two pressure cooker bombs and placed them near the marathon finish line.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a shootout with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is currently awaiting trial.

Boston Bombing suspect: Can’t use ‘betrayal’ argument

BOSTON — Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev say federal prosecutors shouldn’t be allowed to use his status as a new American citizen to argue that his alleged “betrayal” of the United States is one reason he should be put to death.

In a court filing Thursday, Tsarnaev’s lawyers say prosecutors are trying to use Tsarnaev’s foreign birth and immigration history against him. They say citing his status as a newly naturalized U.S. citizen implies he is “more deserving of the death penalty” than a native-born person who commits the same crime.

Tsarnaev is awaiting trial on 30 federal charges in the 2013 marathon bombing. Twin bombs placed near the finish line of the marathon ripped into crowds gathered to watch the annual event, killing three people and injuring more than 260. At least 16 people lost limbs.

“Resentment of Tsarnaev’s immigration status and history is perhaps natural, given the nature of the crimes charged, and it is surely very widespread. But the fact that he had only recently become a citizen, standing alone, does not increase his moral or legal guilt, and it should not be permitted,” Tsarnaev’s lawyers argue in the motion.