British PM visits Boston to discuss marathon bombs

BOSTON (AP) - British Prime Minister David Cameron met with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on Monday to offer his condolences and discuss lessons that can be learned from the deadly Boston Marathon bombing.

The meeting followed a White House visit in which Mr Cameron held a press conference with President Barack Obama.

Mr Cameron was greeted by Mr Patrick on the front steps of the Massachusetts Statehouse. The two men then walked together into the building and into the governor's office for a private meeting.

Mr Cameron told Mr Patrick before the meeting that he wanted to pay his respects in Boston, where the April 15 bombing near the marathon's finish line killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

One bombing suspect died after a gunbattle with police, and the other, his younger brother, was arrested. The brothers also are blamed for the shooting death of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer days after the bombing.

Mr Cameron's meeting and a reception with Mr Patrick and other state leaders lasted just over an hour. Mr Cameron declined to respond to reporters' questions on leaving the meeting.

During the press conference earlier in Washington, D.C., Mr Cameron said he looked forward to going to Boston "to pay tribute to the people of that remarkable city."

Mr Patrick said he was pleased with the chance to spend time with Mr Cameron.

"It was great," Mr Patrick told reporters as he left the meeting. "I had a chance to meet him when we were in London a couple of years ago but not to really visit as we did today."

Mr Patrick said the two also discussed the economic cooperation they've forged in the innovation sector. Mr Patrick said he was headed to an evening financial services round table with Mr Cameron.

Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray and state Housing and Economic Development Secretary Gregory Bialecki also attended in the meeting, which was followed by a reception in the governor's council chamber.

Also on Monday, the director of the Massachusetts funeral home where Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body was held for days amid protests over where it would be buried said Tsarnaev's relatives had the right to bury the body as they did, even if he didn't agree with their methods.

Mr Peter Stefan, of Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors in Worcester, said he had received about 20 calls from Virginia residents complaining about Tsarnaev's secret burial there last week.

But Mr Stefan said Massachusetts law gives families the right to bury their relatives and Tsarnaev's family had a permit to take the body to Doswell, Virginia.

Uncle Ruslan Tsarni, of Montgomery Village, Maryland, took responsibility for the body after Tsarnaev's widow, Katherine Russell, who has been staying with family in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, said she wanted it released to her in-laws.

Mr Stefan said he didn't agree with the solution for moving the body: taking it from his funeral home in a nondescript van for the first leg of an overnight trip to Virginia in a truck rented by Tsarnaev's uncle.

Tsarnaev was a 26-year-old ethnic Chechen from southern Russia. Mr Stefan said he had been hoping Russia would eventually accept Tsarnaev's body and his remains could go back to his parents.

"It looked like we sneaked down there and did it," Mr Stefan said. "We didn't do anything illegal. ... I have to prove to the people watching in Virginia that it was legal."

Mr Stefan's comments came as a group critical of the burial said on Monday that it wants Tsarnaev's body disinterred and sent elsewhere.

Mr James Lafferty, chairman of the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force, called the bombing suspect's burial "an awful sneak attack on the people of Virginia." He said he's worried that Muslim radicals will turn the gravesite into a shrine.

"I think it's the first step in establishing a monument to a jihadist," he said. "We can't allow that."

Mr Bukhari Abdel-Alim, vice president of the Virginia Islamic Funeral Services Inc., which helped arrange the burial, said if someone tried to create a shrine to Tsarnaev, "We would stop it." He also defended the secrecy of the burial.

"The deceased have rights, and one of those rights is to be buried properly," he said.

Mr Abdel-Alim said Islam does not support disinterment, but he added the organisation and the owners of the private cemetery would comply with any court order.

Tsarnaev's brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured hiding in a tarp-covered boat outside a house in a Boston suburb and was charged with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill. Their mother has said the allegations against her sons are lies.

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