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Accused Boston bomber's friend may not have understood rights

Monday, 2 June 2014 - 8:58pm IST | Agency: Reuters

A friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber charged with obstructing the investigation into the blasts likely did not understand his right not to speak to police during hours of questioning four days after the attack, a linguistic expert said on Monday.

Lawyers for the friend, Kazakh exchange student Dias Kadyrbayev, are trying to persuade a federal judge to throw out statements he made under interrogation in a police station, saying his comments were not voluntary.

Kadyrbayev's understanding of English was too rudimentary for him to have understood paperwork presented by federal agents informing him that he had a right to remain silent, said Temple University linguist Aneta Pavlenko.

"It was highly unlikely that at the time of interrogation Mr. Kadyrbayev had the linguistic proficiency to understand the Miranda warning," Pavlenko testified at U.S. District Court in Boston.

Kadyrbayev is one of three college friends of accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev charged with hampering the investigation by going to the suspect's dormitory room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth three days after the attack and removing a laptop and backpack containing empty fireworks shells.

Three people were killed and 264 injured at the historic Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.

During hearings last month, law enforcement officials testified that four days after the blasts, armed federal agents ordered Kadyrbayev and fellow Kazakh Azamat Tazhayakov to leave their apartment and took them to a state police barracks where they were questioned for hours.

Kadyrbayev's lawyers argue his statements during that time should not be admitted at his upcoming trial because he had no attorney present and did not understand the consequences of speaking with agents. One agent testified that Kadyrbayev told him he suspected Tsarnaev had been involved in the attack.

Kadyrbayev is expected to testify on Monday about his comprehension.

Tazhayakov's attorneys dropped a similar request, saying they did not want their client to testify ahead of a trial scheduled to start in September.

Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov, both charged with obstruction of justice, could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted. A third friend, Robel Phillipos of Cambridge, Massachusetts, faces up to 16 years if convicted of the less serious charge of lying to investigators.

Tsarnaev, who also is accused of killing a university police officer in a shootout three days after the bombings, is awaiting trial in a prison west of Boston. He faces the possibility of execution if convicted. His brother, Tamerlan, also was suspected in the marathon bombing and was killed in a shootout with police.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Gunna Dickson and Bill Trott)

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