Three friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have been arrested and face charges of attempting to conceal the crime by removing evidence from his apartment, throwing it in the trash and lying to investigators.
Details of the allegations against Dias Kadyrbayev, Azamat Tazhayakov and Robel Phillipos were outlined in a criminal complaint submitted to the United States District Court and obtained by media on Wednesday.
The complaint details the steps allegedly taken by the three young men after realizing their college friend was suspected of being one of two men behind a pair of explosives detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15.
Specifically, it is alleged the men removed a backpack, computer and firework remnants from Tsarnaev’s apartment on the evening of April 18 and that Kadyrbayev later threw those items into the trash. Those items have since been recovered by investigators.
The U.S. Attorney's Office confirmed via Twitter that the three men will be charged Wednesday afternoon with conspiring to obstruct justice and making false statements to police.
The charges come after Boston police announced the arrests Wednesday morning and issued an assurance that the public was safe.
“Please be advised that there is no threat to public safety. Three additional suspects have been taken into custody in connection to the attack on the Boston Marathon,” police said in a statement. “Aside from the aforementioned, there is no additional info to release at this time. Additional details will be provided when they become available.”
Phillipos is a Massachusetts native while Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov moved from Kazakhstan to study school at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. The criminal complaint says the three men met Tsarnaev on campus in 2011 and became friends.
College officials were refusing to answer questions and directed media to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and his elder brother Tamerlan, 26, are believed to be solely responsible for the Boston bombing, which killed three people and injured more than 200 others.
The Chechen brothers led police on a car chase through city streets just days after the April 15 bombing. Elder brother Tamerlan was killed following a gunfight with authorities and Dzhokhar was taken into custody and is currently in a prison hospital.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov are reported to have been in custody since being arrested on April 20 and are accused of being in the U.S. on invalid student visas.
The Boston Globe’s immigration reporter Maria Sacchetti writes that Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov appeared before a federal immigration judge on Wednesday to face charges that they were in the country illegally.
The two men came from Kazakhstan to study at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, but are accused of violating their student visas. Sacchetti reports that defence lawyers claim Tazhayakov is still enrolled at school and that Kadyrbayev, who was expelled from college due to low grades, should be released and allowed to leave the country.
The two men and Phillipos are expected to appear in court to face new charges later today. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov are accused of “knowingly destroying, concealing, and covering up objects belonging to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.” Phillipos is accused of making “materially false statements to federal investigators during a terrorism investigation.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev currently faces charges of using a weapon of mass destruction to kill, injure and cause widespread damage.
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