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Friend of Tsarnaev is confident in justice system

Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, right, poses with Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev in an undated photo taken in New York. REUTERS

The mother of Azamat Tazhayakov, one of three friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev facing federal criminal charges, said Monday that her son remains convinced that he will be treated fairly by American courts when he is tried later this year.

Tazhayakov, fellow Kazakhstan native Dias Kadyrbayev, and Cambridge resident Robel Phillipos are all facing criminal charges stemming from their friendship with Tsarnaev when he was a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Tazhayakov’s mother, accompanied by an English-speaking friend, attended a hearing in US District Court in Boston, though the three defendants themselves did not appear for the hearing on pretrial discovery motions. Tazhayakov’s mother spoke while holding her daughter, a toddler she had brought to meet her college-age sibling.


“He is doing all right now,’’ Tuyrsynai Ismagulov said in Russian that was translated by a Globe reporter. “He believes in justice.’’

In court, US District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock sharply criticized some of the requests for information filed by lawyers for the three men, telling them at one point that defense lawyers were engaging in a “fishing expedition.’’

Phillipos is facing two counts of making false statements while Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov are charged with conspiring to obstruct justice and obstructing justice with the intent to impede a terrorism investigation.

Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev allegedly discarded evidence, including Tsarnaev’s computer and backpack containing fireworks, which were later recovered by authorities from a New Bedford landfill. Phillipos allegedly lied about what he knew, authorities said.

In court, Assistant US Attorney B. Stephanie Siegmann said that no DNA or fingerprints were found on the items recovered from the landfill. All three men have pleaded not guilty.

Woodlock, at another point in the hearing, told the lawyers that the charges against their clients are not complex, even though their case is connected to the Marathon attacks on April 15, 2013 that killed three people and left more than 260 wounded.


The charges relate to “what did the defendants know and when did they know it and what did they do with that knowledge,’’ the judge said. “Did they answer the questions [from law enforcement] truthfully?’’

Woodlock also cautioned federal prosecutors not to engage in semantic games when identifying the large number of federal, state, and local officials who were on scene in Dartmouth and New Bedford on April 19 and April 20 when authorities investigated Tsarnaev’s connection to the three suspects.

In one court filing, said the judge and the defense, prosecutors suggested that the agency that oversees legal immigration was not part of the federal government. “Everybody who was involved with this process is part of the government,’’ Woodlock told prosecutors.

Robert Stahl, Kadyrbayev’s lawyer, said prosecutors told defense attorneys that Tsarnaev destroyed his cellphone before his arrest in Watertown on April 19.

He asked Woodlock to ask prosecutors to seek any text messages involving the defendants and turn them over to the defense.

Siegmann said prosecutors have already given the defense text messages between Tsarnaev and the three friends taken from the cellphones of the friends.

“I believe the messages we’ve given them are all we could get,” Siegmann told the judge.

All three men have so far presented a united legal front, but Phillipos’s defense attorney Derege Demissie said in court Monday that he may file a motion to have his client tried separately.


Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@
. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.