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Prosecutors say friend wanted to help accused Boston bomber

Published on Jul 16, 2014 11:05 PM

BOSTON (Reuters) - United States prosecutors said on Wednesday that a friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber charged with obstructing justice by removing evidence from the suspect's dorm room did so to protect his friend during an FBI manhunt.

The defendant, Kazakh exchange student Azamat Tazhayakov, is charged with accompanying two friends to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room three days after the April 15, 2013, attack that killed three people and injured 264 and removing a laptop computer and backpack containing empty fireworks shells.

The visit occurred hours after the FBI released photos of Tsarnaev and his older brother at the site of the bombing and asked for the public's help in learning their identities, said Assistant US Attorney John Capin in closing arguments at US District Court in Boston. "By the time the FBI searched the Tsarnaev dorm room, which was one of the first things they did when they identified Mr. Tsarnaev as a suspect in this investigation, it was too late," Mr Capin said. "Why did he do these things? He did these things to protect his friend, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev."

Tazhayakov, now 20, and his roommate, Dias Kadyrbayev, decided later that night to throw away the backpack after growing concerned their friend Tsarnaev was a suspect in the investigation, contend prosecutors, who charged them with obstruction of justice and conspiracy.

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