White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday the Boston bombing suspect will not be tried as an enemy combatant, throwing cold water on a heated partisan debate over how to handle his interrogation and prosecution. But he will be charged with using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction.
Mr. Carney said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is in a hospital suffering from a neck wound, will be tried in federal court and stressed that civilian courts can handle the job of prosecuting him as they have in previous terrorism cases.
Tsarnaev is specifically charged with one count of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (namely, an improvised explosive device or IED) against persons and property within the United States resulting in death, and one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death, the Justice Department said.
If convicted, Tsarnaev could get death, life in prison or any term of years.
Tsarnaev was arraigned from his hospital bed earlier Monday. The criminal complaint was unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
The U.S. Attorney in Boston tweeted: “Dzhokar Tsarnaev charged with conspiring to use weapon of mass destruction against persons and property in U.S. resulting in death.”
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“Although our investigation is ongoing, today’s charges bring a successful end to a tragic week for the city of Boston, and for our country,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with each of the bombing victims and brave law enforcement professionals who lost their lives or suffered serious injuries as a result of this week’s senseless violence. Thanks to the valor of state and local police, the dedication of federal law enforcement and intelligence officials, and the vigilance of members of the public, we’ve once again shown that those who target innocent Americans and attempt to terrorize our cities will not escape from justice. We will hold those who are responsible for these heinous acts accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”