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Friend of accused Boston bomber found guilty of obstructing justice

File - Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, charged with using a weapon of mass destruction in the bombings on April 15, 2013 near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Federal Bureau of Investigation)

BOSTON: A U.S. jury Monday found a friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber guilty of obstructing the investigation into the deadly blasts by removing a backpack containing fireworks shells from the suspect’s dorm room.

The friend, Kazakh exchange student Azamat Tazhayakov, was found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice for going to suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s room three days after the attack and removing a backpack.

His mother broke down in tears when the verdict was read, while Tazhayakov, dressed in a suit and tie, sat quietly between his lawyers.

Prosecutors have said Tazhayakov, fellow Kazakh exchange student Dias Kadyrbayev and Robel Phillipos of Cambridge, Massachusetts, removed evidence from Tsarnaev’s room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth after realizing that their friend was depicted in photos the FBI released of the suspected bomber. He could face up to 20 years in prison on the obstruction of justice count and up to five years on the conspiracy count.

Jurors saw a videotaped statement from Kadyrbayev’s girlfriend saying that she told him to dispose of the backpack when she realized the FBI was hunting for Tsarnaev.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 22, 2014, on page 11.

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