FBI agents to testify against friend of accused Boston bomber

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 11, 2014 7:04 AM

BOSTON (Reuters) - FBI agents who interrogated a friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber charged with obstructing the investigation into the deadly blasts are expected to take the witness stand on Friday as the first week of the trial comes to a close.

Azamat Tazhayakov is the first of three friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to face trial on charges of interfering with the investigation by going to the suspect's dorm room and removing a laptop and backpack containing fireworks shells three days after the April 15, 2013 attacks.

FBI special agent Farbod Azad, who questioned Tazhayakov after he and two friends were ordered out of their New Bedford, Massachusetts, apartment by heavily armed agents, is due to return to the witness stand for a second day.

Azad on Thursday testified that Tazhayakov told him and roommate Dias Kadyrbayev, both Kazakh exchange students, and a third man, Robel Phillipos of Cambridge, Massachusetts, removed the backpack and laptop from Tsarnaev's dorm room.

Tazhayakov's attorneys had argued ahead of trial that their client's statements during that interview, which began April 19th and ran into the next morning, should not be admitted at trial because he had not believed he was free to go at the time.

Tazhayakov could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of obstruction of justice and conspiracy. Kadyrbayev faces the same charges. Phillipos is accused of the lesser charge of lying to investigators.

Trials for Kadyrbayev and Phillipos are scheduled for later this year.

None of the three friends are charged with playing a role in the bombing that killed three people and injured 264.

Tsarnaev is awaiting trial, set for November, on charges that carry the death penalty if he is convicted.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Eric Walsh)