BOSTON – The shaggy-haired US university student charged with detonating bombs that killed three people at the Boston Marathon makes his first court appearance Wednesday.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will come face-to-face with people injured in two thunderous blasts carried out April 15 with two rigged pressure cookers when he steps into the federal courthouse in Boston at 3:30 pm (1930 GMT).
The 30-count indictment against him will be read out and he will have to enter a plea, said Christina Dilorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors.
The attacks stunned America with scenes of carnage and chaos at the finish line of one of the country’s premier sporting events. Besides the fatalities, another 264 people were hurt. Some lost one or both legs.
Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old US national of Chechen origin, was captured four days later after a huge manhunt. He was hiding and bleeding in a boat in someone’s backyard in a Boston suburb.
He is accused of plotting and carrying out the attack with his elder brother Tamerlan, who died in a shootout with police as they tried to escape the Boston area.
A police officer was shot dead as the Tsarnaevs tried to make their getaway.
The teenager had scrawled a rambling explanation of his motives for the Boston attacks on an interior wall of the boat.
“The US government is killing our innocent civilians,” Tsarnaev wrote.
“I can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished … we Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all.
“Now I don’t like killing innocent people it is forbidden in Islam but … stop killing our innocent people and we will stop.”
Tsarnaev faces an indictment which includes 17 charges punishable by death or life imprisonment.
Charges include use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, as well as conspiracy and bombing of a place of public use resulting in death.
The brothers are said to have built the bombs with help from an online Al-Qaeda magazine.
They were also said to have watched sermons by Yemeni-born American radical Islamic cleric Anwar al’Awlaqi, a key figure in Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
Tsarnaev is also accused of involvement in the killing of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, shot dead on April 18 as the Tsarnaev brothers attempted to steal his gun.
The Tsarnaev brothers had lived in the Boston area for around 10 years before launching their attacks, apparently without any assistance from an outside group.
The bombs were detonated seconds apart, killing a boy, a Chinese student and a woman restaurant manager. At least 13 of the injured had limbs torn off.
No trial date has been set yet.
The decision on whether to seek the death penalty is up to US Atorney General Eric Holder. Such punishment at the federal level is rare — when it is meted out, it is usually by state governments.