At 2:49 pm on April 15, 2013, the annual Boston Marathon was underway with runners regularly crossing the finish line, and the streets were lined with people watching the race. While the nation watched on television, two bomb explosions occurred, knocking runners and spectators to the ground, killing 3 people and injuring more than 260 people. The explosions occurred near the finish line within 13 seconds of each other, turning a happy event into a devastating scene.
In the hours following the explosions, the FBI analyzed the crime scene, including video recordings and smartphone pictures and several days later identified the prime suspects as being two unknown men wearing backpacks who were watching the race. Based on information that became available later, the two bombing suspects were identified as Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who were ethnic Chechens.
At 11 PM on April 18, 2013 a Massachusetts Institute of Technology patrol officer who responded to a disturbance call on the university campus, was shot, and soon died. Soon after, in the early hours of April 19, the Tsarnaev brothers hijacked a car in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The police took chase and Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a police gunfight, but his brother Dzhokhar escaped. That night, a Boston resident noticed blood on his boat parked in the yard, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured.
From April 19 to April 20, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov were questioned and then taken into custody for several days. The justification for the custody was alleged visa violations because that is all they could come up with concerning Azamat. As it turned out, a visa problem had already been corrected, and Azamat was in the U.S. legally and properly enrolled at UMD.
Despite Azamat Tazhayakov’s innocence, on May 1, 2013 he and Dias Kadyrbayev were charged by Carmen Ortiz, a Boston federal prosecutor in Criminal Complaint Case No. 13-MS-2161-MBB. Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev were arraigned in federal court on charges of obstruction of justice for destroying evidence and conspiracy to obstruct justice for agreeing to destroy the evidence. They were arraigned on August 13, 2013 before Judge Marianne Bowler in Boston’s federal District Court and pled “not guilty.” If convicted, Azamat could get a maximum of 25 years in prison – 20 years for obstruction plus 5 years for conspiracy – plus a $250,000 fine and deportation. Currently Azamat is in the Essex County jail in Middleton with his young life unjustly put on hold while waiting for the truth to come out.
Azamat Tazhayakov is innocent of all charges. He has been dragged into a highly-charged and sensitive case simply because he knew people who were involved. Azamat’s innocence will be proven without a doubt, and real justice will be served. We hope that this message will be heard.