BOSTON (Reuters) - Joint prison visits to accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev by his sisters and attorneys should not be treated as confidential lawyer-client meetings, U.S. prosecutors argued in court papers filed Friday.
Responding to an October request by defense attorneys to loosen restrictions on their communication with the 20-year-old Tsarnaev, prosecutors argued they have the right for an FBI agent to be present at meetings between the defendant and social visitors - to insure that neither party was “soliciting or encouraging acts of violence or other crimes.”
Tsarnaev is accused of placing, along with his older brother, two homemade pressure-cooker bombs at the finish line of the April 15 Boston Marathon last year. The blasts killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and injured 264 at the famed sporting event. He faces the possibility of execution, if convicted.
Visits from Tsarnaev’s sisters to the prison west of Boston, where he is being held awaiting trial, are not entitled to the same guarantees of confidentiality as those from his attorneys, even if his attorneys are present, prosecutors argued in the filing in U.S. District Court in Boston.
“The fact that the defense may wish to exploit these social visits and encourage a particular relationship does not ... transform the social visit into a legal one,” prosecutors said.
During his sisters’ second visit, Tsarnaev complained about the conditions of his confinement, prosecutors said.
“Tsarnaev, despite the presence of an FBI agent and an employee of the Federal Public Defender, was unable to temper his remarks and made a statement to his detriment which was overheard by the agent,” prosecutors argued.
Tsarnaev was arrested four days after the bombing attack, when he and his brother Tamerlan, 26, tried to escape from Boston. The two killed a university police officer in an attempt to steal his gun, officials charge, and engaged in a late-night gun battle with police that left Tamerlan dead.
The Tsarnaev family emigrated to the United States from Russia’s restive Chechnya republic a decade ago and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the parents and their four children lived in a small apartment.
After the bombings, sisters Bella and Ailina issued a statement saying they were “devastated” by the attack, which they described as “such a callous act.”
Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Gunna Dickson