US judge denies Boston trial delay over Paris attacks

NEW YORK (AFP) - A US judge on Wednesday denied a request from the Boston bombings suspect to delay jury selection in his trial on the grounds that the Paris attacks could influence potential jurors.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's legal team filed the unusual motion at the US district court in Boston more than a week after jury selection began.

The court papers were published by US media.

The US attorney's office for the District of Massachusetts said Wednesday the defendant's motion to suspend jury empanelment had been denied by the judge.

Tsarnaev, 21, faces the death penalty if convicted over the April 15, 2013 attacks on the Boston Marathon that killed three people and wounded 264 - the worst such incident in the US since 9/11.

His lawyers said the suspension of jury selection would allow time for "extraordinary prejudice flowing from these events (in France) - and the comparison of those events to those at issue in this case - to diminish."

They complained that immediately after the attacks in France that left 17 people dead, the press, politicians and commentators had drawn supposed parallels with the Boston bombings.

Jury selection for Tsarnaev's trial began in federal court on Jan 5 and opening arguments are expected to be heard around Jan 26.

He has pleaded not guilty to 30 charges.

The Boston marathon attacks plunged the northeastern city into mourning and revived fears of terrorism in the United States more than a decade after the Sept 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda plane strikes.

Judge George O'Toole also refused a pre-Christmas request from the defence to delay the trial until September 2015.

A Muslim of Chechen descent, Tsarnaev emigrated with his family to the United States in 2002 from Dagestan and became a naturalised American citizen in 2012.

He is accused of carrying out the attacks with his brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with police.

Prosecutors say the brothers prepared bombs based on instructions in Al-Qaeda's English-language magazine Inspire.