US police: Bombing suspect needs burial site

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Associated Press

Posted on May 8, 2013 at 9:36 PM

BOSTON (AP) — The dispute over where to bury suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev escalated 19 days after his death as a police chief urged someone to step forward with a cemetery plot, saying: "We are not barbarians. We bury the dead."

The plea from Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme came a day after he said that a deal struck Monday to bury the 26-year-old's remains at a state prison site had dissolved. The state Department of Correction said in a statement its burial facilities have been reserved for inmates who die in state custody.

Police said it's costing them tens of thousands of dollars to provide security at the funeral home that is holding Tsarnaev's body. Gemme said sending the body to Russia, Tsarnaev's homeland, is "not an option."

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has said through an aide that he didn't want the bombing suspect buried in the city. Worcester funeral home director Peter Stefan has said none of the 120 offers of graves from the U.S. and Canada have worked out because officials in those cities and towns don't want the body either.

Authorities allege Tsarnaev and his brother carried out the April 15 bombings near the marathon's finish line, using pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails, ball bearings and metal shards. The attack killed three and injured more than 260.

Tamerlan died following a gunbattle with police, and authorities captured 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after a massive manhunt. The younger brother is now in a prison hospital, facing charges that could bring the death penalty.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body was released by the state medical examiner May 1 and has been in limbo since then.

An expert in U.S. burial law said the resistance to Tsarnaev's burial is unprecedented in a country that has always found a way to put to rest its notorious killers, from Lee Harvey Oswald, who shot President John F. Kennedy, to Adam Lanza, who gunned down 20 children and six educators at Connecticut school last year.

"It's very unusual that people are so fixated on this," said Tanya Marsh, a Wake University professor. "There are a lot of evil people buried in marked graves in the United States. Traditionally, in the United States, ... when somebody dies, that's the end of their punishment."

A deal had been struck Monday to bury the remains of Tsarnaev, a 26-year-old ethnic Chechen from southern Russia, at a state prison site, but it dissolved after state officials stopped cooperating Tuesday, Gemme said.

The state Department of Correction said Wednesday it did not offer a burial site and its burial facilities have been reserved for inmates who die in state custody, but Gemme stood by his earlier statement.

A solution may be found in Massachusetts law, which requires a community to provide a place to bury someone "dying within its limits."

U.S. law enforcement officials have been trying to determine whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev was indoctrinated or trained by militants during a 2012 visit to Dagestan, a Russian province that has become the center of a simmering Islamic insurgency.

The U.S. and Russia have been collaborating on a criminal investigation into the brothers.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow hired a criminal lawyer with experience defending terrorism cases as she continued to face questions from federal authorities, attorney Amato DeLuca said Wednesday.

He said his client Katherine Russell has added Joshua Dratel to her legal team. Dratel has represented a number of terrorism suspects in federal courts and military commissions.

DeLuca said Russell, who has not been charged with any crime, will continue to meet with investigators.

An FBI spokeswoman wouldn't comment when asked whether Russell is cooperating.

DeLuca has said Russell had no reason to suspect her husband and his brother in the bombing. Russell, 24, married Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2010, and they had been living with their 2-year-old daughter when the bombing happened.

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Associated Press writers Jay Lindsay, Denise Lavoie, Steve LeBlanc and Mark Pratt in Boston, Rodrique Ngowi in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Pete Yost in Washington contributed to this report.

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