Robel Phillipos released on bail with house arrest

Defendant Robel Phillipos is pictured in a courtroom sketch, appearing at the John Joseph Moakley United States Federal Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts 1 May 2013 In a letter in support of the defence, Robel Phillipos' aunt wrote "by nature" he did not like violence

A judge in the US has agreed to release pending trial a friend of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect who is accused of lying to FBI investigators.

Robel Phillipos, 19, is to be freed on a $100,000 (£64,300) bond provided he wears an electronic monitoring bracelet and is confined to his home.

He and two other friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were charged last week with hindering the investigation.

Mr Phillipos faces up to eight years in prison if convicted.

Meanwhile, a funeral director hired by the Tsarnaev family is searching for a burial place for Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder brother of Dzhokhar, as protestors have picketed the funeral home holding his body.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a shootout with police several days after the bombings, which killed three and left more than 260 wounded.

Medical officials in the state of Massachusetts said he died of gunshot wounds and blunt force trauma. Police say Dzhokhar Tsarnaev drove over his brother in a chaotic escape attempt.

Funeral for 'everyone'

Funeral director Peter Stefan has been unable to find a cemetery in Massachusetts willing to accept the remains.

Peter Stefan sits in his funeral home in Worcester, Massachusetts, 3 May "Lee Harvey Oswald, Timothy McVeigh... Somebody had to do those, too," Stefan said

"Everyone deserves a burial," Mr Stefan told Reuters news agency by telephone. "It doesn't matter who it is. I can't pick and choose."

He has said he will ask the city of Cambridge, where the brothers lived over the last decade, to allow Tsarnaev to be buried in a city-owned cemetery.

City Manager Robert Healy said he was urging the family not to make the request.

"The difficult and stressful efforts of the citizens of the city of Cambridge to return to a peaceful life would be adversely impacted by the turmoil, protests, and widespread media presence at such an interment," Mr Healy said in a statement.

Tsarnaev's brother, Dzhokhar, 19, remains in a prison hospital recovering from gunshot wounds. He faces the death penalty if convicted of terrorism charges in connect with the attack.

'No flight risk'

Mr Phillipos is accused of lying to investigators about visiting Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dormitory at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth on 18 April, three days after the bombings.

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, two other college friends, have been charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by taking a backpack with the remains of fireworks and a laptop from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room before the FBI searched it.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev (L), 26, and his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19 Tamerlan Tsarnaev (right) died after a police shootout, while Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in custody

None of the three men are implicated in the planning of the bombings.

In court documents, defence attorneys for Mr Phillipos said their client had nothing to do with the attack and was not a flight risk.

According to a resume filed with the court, he was studying marketing and sociology at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, and was expected to graduate in 2015.

But the university has said Mr Phillipos was not enrolled during the current semester.

In letters filed with the court, friends and family members described Mr Phillipos as peaceful and non-violent.

"I do not believe that my beloved Robel crosses the line intentionally to support or assist such a horrendous act," his aunt, Zewditu Alemu, wrote. "By nature he does not like violence."

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