The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

May 6, 2013

Uncle arranging Boston bomb suspect's burial rites

(Continued)

"I'm dealing with logistics. A dead person must be buried," he said.

He said he was grateful to Stefan for agreeing to arrange the burial and to his friends for accompanying him to Massachusetts to aid 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, which killed three people and injured more than 260 others. His 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar, was captured.

Stefan said he has received calls from people criticizing him and calling him "un-American" for being willing to handle Tamerlan Tsarnaev's funeral.

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

A half dozen protesters gathered outside the funeral home Sunday holding signs and American flags and chanting "USA!" One sign read: "Do not bury him on U.S. soil." Several people drove by the funeral home earlier Sunday and yelled, including one man who shouted, "Throw him off a boat like Osama bin Laden!"

The state medical examiner ruled that Tsarnaev died from gunshot wounds and blunt trauma to his head and torso, and authorities have said his brother ran him over in a chaotic getaway attempt. Stefan said Sunday that the family won't request that an independent medical examiner perform a second autopsy, but representatives from the family's legal team might photograph Tsarnaev's body before it's washed.

Tsarni has denounced the acts his nephews are accused of committing and has said they brought shame to the family and the entire Chechen ethnicity. The brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago with their parents. Both parents returned to Dagestan last year.

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