Boston Marathon bombs: Prosecutors prepare charges

The refusal of US authorities to read the Boston Marathon bombing suspect his rights is met with differing opinions among Bostonians

US federal prosecutors are preparing charges against the surviving Boston Marathon bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as more details emerge of his capture.

If he is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill people, he could face the death penalty.

Mr Tsarnaev is in hospital, unable to speak because of a wound to the throat.

US media quoted anonymous sources as saying he had been responding to questions in writing, but this has not been officially confirmed.

The FBI's Boston field office and the Boston police department both said the information did not come from them.

The Tsarnaev brothers

Tamerlan Tsarnaev (L), 26, and his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19
  • Sons of Chechen refugees from the troubled Caucasus region of southern Russia
  • Family is thought to have moved to the US in 2002, from Russian republic of Dagestan
  • They lived in the Massachusetts town of Cambridge, home to Harvard University
  • Dzhokhar, 19, (right) was awarded a scholarship to pursue further education; he wanted to become a brain surgeon, according to his father
  • Tamerlan, 26, was an amateur boxer who had reportedly taken time off college to train for a competition; he described himself as a "very religious" non-drinker and non-smoker

Boston's Mayor Tom Menino had earlier told ABC News that "we don't know if we'll ever be able to question the individual".

But the ABC, NBC and CBS networks all reported late on Sunday that the suspect was responding in writing to interrogation. This included questions about possible cell members and other explosives.

"We have a million questions and those questions need to be answered," said Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, quoted by Reuters news agency.

The suspect was captured on Friday evening after a huge manhunt during which his elder brother and suspected fellow bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died.

Police believe the 19-year-old Dzhokhar may have killed his brother himself, running him over in a car as he fled capture on Thursday night.

Monday's twin bomb attack on the Boston Marathon finish line killed a boy of eight and two women, and injured more than 180, of whom 13 lost limbs.

One policeman was killed and another injured during the manhunt.

Governor Patrick has asked Bostonians to observe a moment of silence for the victims at 14:50 local time (18:50 GMT).

A funeral service was also held on Monday for one of the victims, 29-year-old restaurant worker Krystle Campbell.

'Throw the book at him'

No motive for the attack has been established. The brothers, who originate from Chechnya in southern Russia, had been living in the US for about a decade.

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The marathon bombing has reignited a hugely sensitive tussle over the nature of Islamist terrorism, Islam itself and how America responds to terrorism and a religion it doesn't truly understand”

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It is unclear when the charges will be filed against the suspect.

In addition to the federal charges, prosecutors for the state of Massachusetts, which does not have the death penalty, may file their own.

Mayor Menino said he hoped the federal prosecutor for Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz, "takes him [Dzhokhar Tsarnaev] on the federal side and throws the book at him".

Interrogators are not reading Mr Tsarnaev his Miranda rights, which guarantee the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer.

This exception is allowed on a limited basis when the public may be in immediate danger.

Boston police commissioner Ed Davis said on Sunday he believed the brothers had probably been planning further attacks.

The federal public defender's office in Massachusetts has agreed to represent Mr Tsarnaev once he is charged.

He is being treated in Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for injuries he sustained before his capture, when he was found hiding in a boat in the back yard of a house in Watertown, a suburb of Boston.

The hospital said on Monday that his condition remained serious.

'Run over'

Watertown's police chief, Ed Deveau, has said he believes Dzhokhar Tsarnaev mortally injured his brother just after their firefight with police.

Suspects' origins

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Chechnya (pair were ethnic Chechens): Southern Russian republic, rich in oil. Infrastructure hit by years of war between separatists and Russian forces, banditry and organised crime. Improved security situation has led to increased investment in reconstruction projects. But sporadic attacks by separatists continue.

Dagestan (pair lived here for several years): Southern Russian republic, translating as "land of the mountains", famed for ethnic and linguistic diversity. A long-running militant Islamist insurgency is a thorn in the authorities' side. Dagestan has oil reserves and a strong manufacturing sector, but rampant corruption and organised crime.

It was initially reported that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, had died of bullet and blast injuries.

Mr Deveau told the Boston Globe newspaper, however, that Dzhokhar had driven over him in a stolen SUV, dragging him on the pavement and apparently inflicting the injuries that killed him.

After Tamerlan shot at police and apparently ran out of bullets, the police chief said, officers tackled him.

They were trying to apply handcuffs when the SUV came roaring at them, with Dzhokhar at the wheel. The officers scattered and the SUV ran over Tamerlan, Mr Deveau said.

Abandoning the car, Dzhokhar then fled the scene on foot, he said.

The same newspaper reports that Tamerlan Tsarnaev disrupted a mosque in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in January when he objected to the speaker comparing the Prophet Muhammad to civil rights champion Martin Luther King.

He reportedly told the speaker "You are a kafir [unbeliever]", and said he was contaminating people's minds and was a hypocrite.

Separately, US lawmakers on Sunday questioned why the FBI had failed to spot the danger from Tamerlan Tsarnaev after Russia had asked the US agency to question him two years ago.

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