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Boston Marathon bomb accused Dzhokhar Tsarnaev due in court

image captionThe van believed to be carrying Tsarnaev arrived at the court in Boston on Wednesday

Victims of the Boston Marathon bombing will come face-to-face with the young man accused of the attack as he makes his first court appearance later.

The federal court in Boston is expected to be packed for the arraignment of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

It will be the first time he has been seen in public since his arrest.

He has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction in the 15 April blasts that killed three people, including an eight-year-old boy.

The accused could face the death penalty if convicted over what was the worst mass-casualty attack on US soil since 11 September 2001.

Space is being reserved in the main courtroom on Wednesday for families of the victims, said a spokeswoman for the US attorney's office.

The accused will be able to make a plea at the hearing, which some 260 people wounded in the explosions have also reportedly been invited to attend.

Mr Tsarnaev was not in court last month during an indictment hearing, when a federal grand jury agreed that he should be tried on 30 charges.

His first court appearance took place at his hospital bedside, where he was recovering from injuries received in a shoot-out with police during the manhunt for the bombers. He was later transferred to a prison hospital near Boston.

The defendant's brother and alleged co-conspirator, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in that gun battle.

Authorities say the accused ran over his older brother as he fled the shoot-out in a hijacked car.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found the next day, 19 April, hiding in a boat in a residential garden in Watertown, Massachusetts.

According to the indictment, he wrote about his motivations for the bombing on the inside walls and beams of the boat.

Authorities say he scrawled: "The US Government is killing our innocent civilians" and "I can't stand to see such evil go unpunished."

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is also charged with the death of a policeman he and his brother allegedly shot dead as they fled the authorities, and for a carjacking days after the attacks.

The indictment said that he had downloaded internet material from Islamist radicals sometime before the blasts.

According to the charge sheet, the brothers made bombs from pressure cookers, low-explosive powder, ball bearings, nails, adhesive, electronic components and other material.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is accused of aiding and abetting his brother by planting and detonating one of the two bombs near the finish line.

The devices killed three people - eight-year-old Martin Richard, Krystle Marie Campbell, 29, and 23-year-old Lingzi Lu.

A number of survivors had legs amputated.