U.S. federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the young man accused of staging the April 15 bombing of the Boston Marathon that left three people dead and 280 wounded, the Justice Department said Thursday.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder authorized the prosecution to request the death penalty for the 20-year-old.
"After consideration of the relevant facts, the applicable regulations and the submissions made by the defendant's counsel, I have determined that the United States will seek the death penalty in this matter," Holder said in a statement. "The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision."
The death penalty application was submitted after Holder's decision, the U.S. attorney in Boston, Carmen Ortiz, said Thursday.
Given that Massachusetts, where the bomb attacks took place, does not impose the death penalty, the federal government had to ask for that punishment itself and will have to carry it out if Tsarnaev is found guilty, a task it has had to perform on only rare occasions in the past.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and older brother Tamerlan, ethnic Chechens with U.S. citizenship, planted the two homemade bombs that detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Tamerlan died four days later in a shootout with police, while Dzhokhar was captured after a massive manhunt that saw greater Boston placed on lockdown.
The surviving brother stands accused of 30 charges, including causing the deaths of three people in the bomb blasts and that of an MIT campus police officer three days later while he was fleeing authorities. EFE