Row rumbles on over burial of Boston bombing suspect

Protesters stand outside the funeral home in Worcester, Mass. Picture: AP

The uncle of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev has arrived in Massachusetts to arrange for his burial.

Ruslan Tsarni, of Maryland, said yesterday he understood that “no one wants to associate their names with such evil events”.

He and three friends prepared to wash and shroud Tsarnaev’s body according to Muslim tradition. The 26-year-old died after a gun battle with police on April 19.

Worcester funeral home director Peter Stefan said he has not been able to find a cemetery in Massachusetts willing to take the body.

Cambridge City Manager Robert Healey urged the funeral director and Tsarnaev’s family not to request a burial permit in that city, where the suspect lived.

Mr Healy said Cambridge would be “adversely impacted by the turmoil, protests and widespread media presence at such an interment”.

He said the families who have loved ones interred there also deserve to have their deceased family members rest in peace.

Mr Stefan had said if Cambridge turns him down, he will seek help from state officials.

Mr Tsarni said that he is arranging for Tsarnaev’s burial because religion and tradition call for his nephew to be buried.

He would like him buried in Massachusetts because he had lived in the state for the last decade, he said.

“I’m dealing with logistics. A dead person must be buried.”

He said he was grateful to Stefan for agreeing to arrange the burial and to his friends for accompanying him to Massachusetts to help with the funeral.

“These are my friends who feel for me ... as I do understand no one wants to associate their names with such evil events,” he said.

Tsarnaev, who had appeared in surveillance photos wearing a black cap and was identified as Suspect No. 1, died days after the April 15 bombing at the marathon finish line, which killed three people and wounded more than 260 others. His 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar, was captured.

Mr Stefan said he has received calls from people criticising him and calling him “un-American” for being willing to handle Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s funeral.

But he said: “We take an oath to do this. Can I pick and choose? No. Can I separate the sins from the sinners? No, We are burying a dead body. That’s what we do.”

Six protesters gathered outside the funeral home yesterday holding signs and American flags and chanting “USA!”

One sign read: “Do not bury him on US soil.”

The state medical examiner ruled that Tsarnaev died from gunshot wounds and blunt trauma to his head and torso, and police have said his brother ran him over in a chaotic getaway attempt.

Mr Tsarni has denounced the acts his nephews are accused of committing and has said they brought shame to the family and the entire Chechen community.

The brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia who moved to the US about a decade ago with their parents. Both parents returned to Dagestan in southern Russia last year.

Mr Tsarni said that he hopes to eventually see Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is in a prison hospital and faces a potential death sentence if convicted of the terrorism plot.

“This is another person left all to himself,” he said.

Meanwhile the FBI yesterday carried out court-authorised search in Cambridge as part of its investigation into the bombings.

Jason Pack, a special agent in the FBI’s press office, declined to give further details.

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