BOSTON: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the teenager accused of carrying out the Boston bombings, on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) pleaded not guilty to all charges in United States (US) federal court, nearly three months after the deadly April attacks.
“Not guilty,” the 19-year-old Tsarnaev—in handcuffs, shackles and wearing an orange jumpsuit—said repeatedly as the 30 counts were read out at the arraignment in Boston, which lasted seven minutes.
Seventeen of those counts are punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Security was tight at the courthouse for the hearing, which marked the first time Tsarnaev—an ethnic Chechen Muslim and naturalized US citizen—had been seen in public since his dramatic capture.
The shaggy-haired teen, who was seriously wounded as he tried to evade capture in the days after the attacks, still sported a cast on his left arm down to his fingers and his left eye was swollen.
The courtroom was packed with emotional victims of the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line, some of whom needed canes or crutches to walk, as well as their relatives.
Also in court were one of Tsarnaev’s sisters in tears, a horde of journalists and a few people who identified themselves as friends or supporters of the teen, who had been a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
The attacks, which left three people dead and more than 260 wounded, stunned America with scenes of carnage and chaos at one of the country’s premier sporting events.
The charges against Tsarnaev include using a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, as well as conspiracy and bombing of a place of public use resulting in death, and carjacking.
The trial is not expected to begin any time soon, and would last three to four months, Judge Marianne Bowler said Wednesday.
The decision on whether to seek the death penalty is up to US Attorney General Eric Holder.
The next hearing was set for September 23. Tsarnaev is not expected to appear.