Three university classmates of Dzhokar Tsarnaev (19), suspect in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing, are facing charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice after they allegedly entered Dzhokhar’s residence, removed and trashed a laptop, empty fireworks shells and other important evidence.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, both 19 from New Bedford, Massachusetts, were said to be of Kazakh origin and Robel Phillipos, also 19 and from Cambridge, is a U.S. citizen. Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev are charged with conspiracy while Phillipos has been charged with making false statements to law enforcement officials in a terrorism investigation.
After seeing their friend’s face flashed on televisions and social media, FBI officials said, Dzhokhar’s friends “suspected he was one of the bombers and removed the backpack along with a laptop” from his university dorm room.
Kadyrbayev also allegedly texted Dzhokhar to say that he resembled the suspect, to which Dzhokhar responded using the phrase, “LOL... You better not text me.” The friends later threw the backpack in the garbage but investigators retrieved it. It was said to contain “fireworks that had been emptied of their gunpowder”.
All three knew Dzhokhar from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. If convicted Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev reportedly face maximum sentences of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine whereas Phillipos faces a maximum sentence of eight years and a $250,000 fine, according to prosecutors.
No role in bombing
None of the three has been accused of having a role in the bombing, which killed three persons and injured 264. But in papers outlining the charges, the FBI reportedly said Dzhokhar told two of them around a month before the event that he knew how to make a bomb .
Coincidentally, the two Kazakh men were already in custody on the unrelated charge of violating the conditions of the U.S. visas. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov have been in jail “for more than a week”, reports said for not abiding by their student visa requirements.