Russian authorities told the U.S. that the three members of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's defense team had falsely identified themselves as FBI employees when they travelled to Russia to investigate the case, reports said Friday. The trial which will decide Tsarnaev's fate, who has pleaded not guilty to 30 charges, will begin in November.
Miriam Conrad, one of Tsarnaev’s lawyers, declined to comment on the allegation by Russian authorities, who also said that members of Tsarnaev's defense team had stated that the purpose of their visit was tourism, the Boston Globe reported.
The case is filed at a U.S. District Court in Boston, and lawyers from prosecution and defense decided on plans for jury selection for the trial, which would seat 12 jurors and six alternates. Six weeks before the trial begins, 2,000 potential jurors will also be summonsed. The Boston Marathon bombings, which took place last year and killed three people, are alleged to have been conducted by 21 year-old Dzokhar and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
“While conducting interviews in Russia, the members of the defense team reportedly refused to produce documents confirming their legal status and identified themselves as employees of the FBI,” prosecutors wrote, according to the Boston Globe, adding: “As a result, the Russian government... expelled them.”
Dzokhar had said that the mastermind was his brother Tamerlan, who had reportedly also planned to attack New York’s Times Square and was killed in a manhunt days after the Boston attack.
“We don’t agree with the government’s characterization of what happened,” Conrad said, according to Boston Globe, adding: “And we’ll be responding further at an appropriate time, in writing or in court.”
The Tsarnaev brothers’ parents live in Russia and Tamerlan had spent six month there in 2012, where he allegedly attempted to contact Islamic militants. The Russian government had reportedly warned the U.S. government of Tamerlan’s attempts to establish contact militant groups, according to the Boston Globe.
In April, a report by the U.S. government stated that the FBI had requested more information on Tamerlan from the Russian government in 2011, but Moscow had not responded. U.S. officials also said that if Moscow given them this information back then, the attack could have been avoided.