Court denies Boston bombing suspect request for photos by lawyers

Reuters News
Posted: May 17, 2013 4:37 PM
Court denies Boston bombing suspect request for photos by lawyers

BOSTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday denied a request by lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to take photographs of their imprisoned client without sharing them with prosecutors.

The defense wanted to document 19-year-old Tsarnaev's injuries and mental state while being held in federal prison to provide evidence of "the voluntariness of his statements" while under interrogation, according to court papers.

Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler, of U.S. District Court for Massachusetts, said the request posed a security risk, but said she would allow prison staff to take photographs of Tsarnaev in the presence of his lawyers.

She said the pictures would not be protected by attorney-client confidentiality and would have to be shared with federal prosecutors.

Tsarnaev's lead attorney was not immediately available for comment.

Tsarnaev was found hiding in a boat in Watertown, Massachusetts, four days after the April 15 blasts, which killed three people and injured 264 others at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

He was shot in the throat before his capture and is being held in a prison hospital west of Boston. He faces charges that could carry the death penalty if he is convicted.

A CBS News report on Thursday, citing anonymous sources, said that Tsarnaev left a handwritten message inside the hull of the boat describing the attack as retribution for U.S. wars in Muslim countries.

The report said Tsarnaev described his older brother and fellow suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who died in a gunbattle with police, as "a martyr."

A spokeswoman for the FBI in Boston, Katherine Gulotta, declined to confirm or deny the report.

She also declined to confirm or deny a report that federal investigators questioned a Chechen refugee, ex-rebel Musa Khadzhimuratov, at his home in Manchester, New Hampshire, saying only that "the FBI was in New Hampshire earlier this week conducting court authorized activity."

A New York Times article on Thursday quoted Khadzhimuratov as saying he had met with Tamerlan Tsarnaev a few weeks before the bombing, but that they talked about family, "not religion or politics." Attempts to contact Khadzhimuratov directly were not successful.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been on a U.S. government database of potential terrorism suspects, and the United States had twice been warned by Russia that he might be an Islamic militant, according to U.S. security officials.

The FBI identified the ethnic Chechen brothers as suspects from video and pictures at the scene.

(Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Scott Malone and Leslie Adler)