2 May 2013

Boston bomb suspect's classmates in court

9:24 pm on 2 May 2013

Three college classmates of the Boston bombings suspect have appeared in court on Wednesday, accused of hindering the police investigation into the attacks.

Police say Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev threw away Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's laptop and backpack after the bombings. Both are from Kazakhstan.

Robel Phillipos is accused of lying to investigators. All are in the custody of the US Marshals Service.

The BBC reports none of the three men are implicated in plotting the attacks. Two bombs were set off near the marathon's finish line, killing three people and injuring 264 on 15 April.

Chechen immigrant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is under arrest for the bombing and charged with using a weapon of mass destruction.

His older brother Tamerlan, 26, was killed in a battle with police on 18 April.

If convicted, Mr Kadyrbayev and Mr Tazhayakov face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $US250,000. Mr Phillipos faces up to eight years in jail and a similar fine.

Mr Tazhayakov and Mr Kadyrbayev, both 19, are charged with destroying evidence; Mr Phillipos, a US citizen, is charged with making false statements.

Mr Tazhayakov and Mr Kadyrbayev removed items from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dormitory room at the University of Massachusetts about two days before it was searched by the FBI.

CNN reports they were previously taken into custody for questioning on 19 April.

Police are investigating whether they threw away a backpack at Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's request after the bombing. Last week, law enforcement officials were seen searching dumps in southeastern Massachusetts.

The BBC reports the Tsarnaev brothers had been living in the United States for about a decade. Dzhokhar was a US citizen, while Tamerlan was in America on a Green Card.