BOSTON — As the lone surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing lay hospitalized under heavy guard, the American Civil Liberties Union and a federal public defender raised concerns about investigators’ plan to question 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev without reading him his Miranda rights.
What Tsarnaev will say and when are unclear. He remained in serious condition Sunday and apparently in no shape for interrogation after being pulled bloodied and wounded from a tarp-covered boat in a Watertown backyard. The capture came at the end of a tense Friday that began with his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, dying in a gunbattle with police.
U.S. officials said an elite interrogation team would question the Massachusetts college student without reading him his Miranda rights — something that is allowed on a limited basis when the public may be in immediate danger, such as when bombs are planted and ready to go off.
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said the legal exception applies only when there is a continued threat to public safety and is “not an open-ended exception” to the Miranda rule, which guarantees the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.
The federal public defender’s office in Massachusetts said it has agreed to represent Tsarnaev once he is charged. Miriam Conrad, public defender for Massachusetts, said he should have a lawyer appointed as soon as possible because there are “serious issues regarding possible interrogation.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and his older brother, Tamerlan, 26, are believed by the FBI and state and local police to be the bombers behind the massacre at the Boston Marathon a week ago today, and behind a violent chase through Cambridge and Watertown last early last Friday morning that left one Massachusetts Institute of Technology policeman dead, an MBTA officer seriously wounded, several other officers injured.