Dzohkhar Tsarnaev, the Boston bombing suspect arrested by police on Friday evening, was formally charged today by federal prosecutors.
A U.S. citizen of Chechen ethnic origin, Tsarnaev, 19, lay in a hospital bed as charges against him were finalized. Following a long drawn out firefight against the authorities, Dzohkar was severely injured and unable to speak. He was initially under heavy sedation following a gunshot to the throat that injured his tongue. Unconfirmed reports suggest that he has been communicating with the police via writing.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the suspect has been charged with carrying out a coordinated attack at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. The attack resulted in the death of 3 people and injuries to 176 people.
In a criminal complaint unsealed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Dzohkhar has been charged specifically with the use of a weapon of mass destruction (namely, an improvised explosive device or IED) against persons and property within the United States resulting in death. He has further been charged of one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death.
The prosecutor in charge of the case will be Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. attorney for the district of Massachusetts. Ortiz has a reputation of coming down hard on defendants. The case is also expected to involve officials at the highest levels, including attorney general Eric Holder himself.
Attorney General Eric Holder stated that "although our investigation is ongoing, today’s charges bring a successful end to a tragic week for the city of Boston, and for our country." He added that "Our thoughts and prayers remain with each of the bombing victims and brave law enforcement professionals who lost their lives or suffered serious injuries as a result of this week's senseless violence. Thanks to the valor of state and local police, the dedication of federal law enforcement and intelligence officials, and the vigilance of members of the public, we've once again shown that those who target innocent Americans and attempt to terrorize our cities will not escape from justice. We will hold those who are responsible for these heinous acts accountable to the fullest extent of the law."
If convicted, the statutory charges in place authorize the penalty of death or imprisonment for life or any term of years.
Police continue their investigation to trace the lives of the Boston bombers prior to the attacks. Special attention is being given to the trip made by Dzohkhar's elder brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev to Russia last year. Authorities are trying to determine whether Tamerlan's interactions with Chechens during the visit were in any way linked to the planning or executions of the bombings.