- (Photo: FBI.gov)
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving brother suspected to be behind the Boston Marathon bombing last week, was charged on Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction and will be tried in a civilian court, the White House said.
"He will not be treated as an enemy combatant. We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney added.
"Under U.S. law, United States citizens cannot be tried in military commissions. And it is important to remember that since 9/11 we have used the federal court system to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists."
The 19-year-old Tsarnaev was arrested on Friday night after he was hunted down all over Boston, shutting down most of the city. His older brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was shot down dead by police on Thursday night after a shootout.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is of Chechen origin, is a naturalized U.S. citizen and his hearing has been set for May 30. The full charges include one count of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction in the U.S. and one count of malicious destruction of property with an explosive device.
The brothers are suspected to be behind the Boston Marathon bombing last Monday that left three people dead and over 170 injured. Heavy speculation has been surrounding their possible motives, with some links tying Tamerlan Tsarnaev to terrorist Islamic groups that may have radicalized him over the Internet. He may have influenced his younger brother as well.
The teenager is still in the hospital recovering from a serious throat injury, believed to have been a suicide attempt, but he has been able to communicate with officials through writing. Tsarnaev has agreed to "voluntary detention," but did not answer questions about a possible bail.
"Today's charges bring a successful end to a tragic week for the city of Boston and for our country," said Attorney General Eric Holder.
"We will hold those who are responsible for these heinous acts accountable to the fullest extent of the law."
Because of the brothers' Chechnya roots, some politicians had asked for Tsarnaev to be charged as an enemy combatant, but Carney's statement put an end to that possibility.
"The system has repeatedly proven that it can successfully handle the threat that we continue to face," Carney said, offering several examples of bombers who were U.S. citizens that were tried successfully in civilian court.
Meanwhile, authorities have asked to question Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, the older brother's wife, who said she had no idea that her husband was planning an attack.