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May 9, 2013

Police: Dead Boston bombing suspect buried

BOSTON — Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been buried in an undisclosed location outside the city of Worcester, police said Thursday after a frustrating weeklong search for a community willing to take the body.

“As a result of our public appeal for help, a courageous and compassionate individual came forward to provide the assistance needed to properly bury the deceased,” Worcester police said in a statement.

Sgt. Kerry Hazelhurst said the body was no longer in Worcester and is now entombed. Police did not specify where the body was taken.

Tsarnaev’s body had been at the Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors. Director Peter Stefan had said he could not find a community willing to take the body, including Cambridge, where the family had lived for a decade. Tsarnaev’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, had custody of the body.

Meanwhile, Tsarnaev’s widow continues to face questions from federal authorities and has hired a criminal lawyer with experience defending terrorism cases.

Katherine Russell added New York lawyer Joshua Dratel to her legal team, her attorney Amato DeLuca said Wednesday. Dratel has represented a number of terrorism suspects in federal courts and military commissions, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee David Hicks, who attended an al-Qaida-linked training camp in Afghanistan.

Dratel’s “unique, specialized experience” will help ensure that Russell “can assist in the ongoing investigation in the most constructive way possible,” DeLuca said in a statement.

He said Russell, who has not been charged with any crime, will continue to meet with investigators as “part of a series of meetings over many hours where she has answered questions.”

Providence-based DeLuca and Miriam Weizenbaum have been representing Russell, who is from Rhode Island. They specialize in civil cases such as personal injury law.

An FBI spokeswoman wouldn’t comment when asked Wednesday whether Russell is cooperating. DeLuca has said Russell had no reason to suspect her husband and his brother in the deadly April 15 bombing.

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, ethnic Chechen brothers from southern Russia and living in Massachusetts, are accused of planting two shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs near the marathon finish line, killing three people and injuring about 260.

Dzhokhar, who was captured hiding in a tarp-covered boat outside a house in a Boston suburb, was charged with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill. Their mother has said the charges against them are lies.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a getaway attempt after a gunbattle with police. His body was released by the state medical examiner May 1 and had been in limbo since.

In Washington, the first in a series of hearings to review the government’s initial response to the bombing began Thursday. The hearings on Capitol Hill, which will address what information authorities received about the brothers before the bombings and whether they handled it correctly, come less than three weeks after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s arrest.

The FBI and CIA separately received vague warnings from Russia’s government in 2011 that Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother were religious militants.

Russell, Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s wife, had wanted his body turned over to his side of the family, which claimed it. Nineteen days after his death, cemeteries still refused to take his remains and government officials deflected questions about where he could be buried.

On Wednesday, police in Worcester, west of Boston, pleaded for a resolution, saying they were spending tens of thousands of dollars to protect the funeral home where his body is being kept amid protests.

“We are not barbarians,” Police Chief Gary Gemme said. “We bury the dead.”

An expert in U.S. burial law said the resistance to Tsarnaev’s burial was unprecedented in a country that has always found a way to put to rest its notorious killers, from Lee Harvey Oswald to Adam Lanza, who gunned down 20 children and six educators at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school last year.

Peter Stefan, whose funeral home accepted Tsarnaev’s body last week, said Tuesday that none of the 120 offers of graves from the U.S. and Canada has worked out because officials in those cities and towns don’t want the body.

In Russia, officials aren’t commenting after Tsarnaev’s mother said authorities wouldn’t allow her son’s body into the country so she could bury him in her native Dagestan.

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