Boston bombing suspect faces first court appearance

NEW YORK CITY (AFP) - Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is to appear in court for the first time on Wednesday following his arrest for the April attacks which left three people dead.

Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old US national of Chechen origin, was captured on April 19, four days after a huge manhunt after the Boston Marathon bombing.

The Muslim teenager is to appear in federal court in Boston on Wednesday before judge Marianne Bowler. Tsarnaev may formally enter his plea at the hearing.

Three people were killed and 264 injured after Tsarnaev and his elder brother Tamerlan detonated two pressure cooker bombs along the closing stages of the marathon route on April 15.

A police officer was shot dead as the Tsarnaev brothers went on the run in the days following the attack.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed following a shoot-out with law enforcement on April 18. A seriously wounded Dzhokhar was found hiding in a boat on a suburban Boston driveway and later charged with a range of offenses.

The teenager had scrawled a rambling explanation of his motives for the Boston attacks on an interior wall of the boat.

"The US government is killing our innocent civilians," Tsarnaev wrote.

"I can't stand to see such evil go unpunished ... we Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all.

"Now I don't like killing innocent people it is forbidden in Islam but (...) stop killing our innocent people and we will stop."

Tsarnaev faces a 30-count indictment which include 17 charges punishable by death or life imprisonment.

Charges include use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and conspiracy as well as bombing of a place of public use resulting in death.

The three deaths Tsarnaev is said to have been involved in include Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, shot dead on April 18 as the Tsarnaev brothers attempted to steal his gun.

The Tsarnaev brothers had lived in the Boston area for around 10 years before launching their attacks, apparently without any assistance from an outside group.

The bombs were detonated seconds apart, killing a boy, a Chinese student and a woman restaurant manager. At least 13 of the injured had limbs torn off.

The bombs "were designed to shred skin, shatter bone, and cause extreme pain and suffering, as well as death," according to their indictment.

Three days after the bombing, photos of the two suspects were released and a major manhunt launched during which inhabitants of much of the Boston region were ordered to stay indoors.

The duo had been identified by examination of footage from multiple security cameras examined after the bombing.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been detained at a prison hospital in Fort Devens, roughly 60 kilometres west of Boston.

During a recent conversation with his mother in Dagestan, he appeared to be in good spirits, telling her "everything was fine".

In a recording of the call obtained by Britain's Channel 4 News, Tsarnaev also said he was receiving thousands of dollars in donations from people offering support.

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