US & Canada

Boston bomber Tsarnaev apologises to victims in court

Tsarnaev and Judge O' Toole Jr Image copyright AP
Image caption Tsarnaev mentioned Allah before he apologised

Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has apologised to his victims in a federal court hearing where he was formally sentenced to death.

"I am sorry for the lives I have taken, for the suffering that I have caused you," he told the injured and bereaved.

Earlier on Wednesday, he remained impassive as victims lined up in court to condemn his "cowardly" actions.

Tsarnaev and his brother killed three and injured 264 when they bombed the finish line of the marathon in 2013.

A police officer was killed during the hunt for the Tsarnaevs.

The older brother later died and Tsarnaev was sentenced to death last month but he was formally sentenced by the judge on Wednesday.

In his first statements since the start of the trial, the 21-year-old said he listened to all the victims' testimony and noted survivors' strength, patience and dignity.

He thanked Allah and his lawyers.

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Media captionSurvivor Lynn Julian: "I regret ever having wanted to hear Tsarnaev speak"

But speaking outside the court following the sentencing, victim Lynne Julian said Tsarnaev's apology was hollow and insincere and that her sense of security is forever changed.

"I regret ever wanting to hear him speak," she said. "He showed no remorse."

Henry Borgard, who was walking home from work at the time of the bombing, said he forgives Tsarnaev.

"To hear he is sorry is enough for me. I hope he was genuine, I have no way of knowing that."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Opponents of the death penalty lined up outside the courthouse on Wednesday

Before Tsarnaev spoke in court, several of the injured and bereaved used what was the first opportunity for them to make public their feelings.

Ed Fucarile, the father of Marc, who lost his right leg, said: "The first time I saw you in this courtroom, you were smirking at all the victims for your unspeakable cowardly act. You don't seem to be smirking today.''

The sister of Sean Collier, a police officer killed by the brothers in a shoot-out, called Tsarnaev a "leech abusing the privilege of American freedom".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Bombing survivor Rebekah Gregory told Tsarnaev his actions made victims stronger

In the courtroom - Tara McKelvey, BBC News

One woman, Rebekah Gregory, who worked in corporate housing and lost part of her leg in the bombings, told him she'd watched him "smirking" and "cracking jokes" with his attorneys during the trial.

As she spoke, she stared hard at him and looked only occasionally at her notes. She said she had not been destroyed by the attack. "You made us stronger," she told him.

She sounded almost triumphant as she spoke about her achievements such as working to overcome her injuries, since the bombings, and she concluded by saying to him: "So how's that for your victim impact statement?"

Then she was done.

Bill Richard, father of eight-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest victim, said Tsarnaev could have stopped his brother on the morning of the attack.

"He chose hate. He chose destruction. He chose death. This is all on him."

Seventeen people who lost legs in the attack were present in court. Many said they feared they were going to die.

It could be years until Tsarnaev's legal process is finished. Death penalty sentences in the US often take years to carry out, and there will be an appeal.

The victims

Image copyright AP
  • Restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29, had gone to watch a friend complete the race
  • Chinese graduate student Lu Lingzi was studying statistics at Boston University
  • Eight-year-old Martin Richard was standing with his family, cheering the runners
  • Police officer Sean Collier was shot by the Tsarnaev brothers as they tried to evade arrest

Victims' profiles in full