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US: Alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleads not guilty

11th Jul 2013

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to all 30 charges against him. He entered his plea in a federal court in Boston.

The 19-year-old man accused of involvement in the fatal bombing at the Boston Marathon in April pleaded not guilty to multiple charges as he made his first public appearance on Wednesday wearing shackles and an orange jumpsuit.

The charges against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev included the alleged use of a weapon of mass destruction. Seventeen of the counts against him are punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment.

“Not guilty,” the 19-year-old ethnic Chechen Muslim, a naturalized US citizen, said repeatedly as the 30 counts were read out.

US authorities say Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and now deceased older brother, Tamerlan, 26, planted two bombs near the finish line of Boston’s April 15 marathon. Three people were killed and more than 260 were wounded.

The older brother was killed three days later during a shootout with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was later found hiding, wounded, in a boat in a suburban backyard.

Wednesday’s courtroom hearing was packed with victims of the bombings, some of whom needed canes to walk. The bombs, which were packed with metal fragments, resulted in several people losing one or more limbs.

Outside the courthouse a line of news cameras stretched for blocks and campus policemen from Boston’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology stood at attention in memory of Sean Collier, a fellow officer who was killed in the alleged crime spree that followed the bombings.

Prosecutors said they expected to call 80 to 100 witnesses for a trial they projected to last three to four months. An initial status hearing has been set for September 23.

ipj/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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