Alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is likely to be sentenced to death for his part in the plot if he is tried in a federal civilian court, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Sunday.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) pointed to a mountain of evidence against the 19-year-old man and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who was killed following a shootout with police.
The younger Tsarnaev, who was born in Kyrgyzstan, became a U.S. citizen on Sept. 11 of last year. Treating him as an enemy combatant would be unconstitutional, she said, rejecting calls from GOP lawmakers for the suspect to be interrogated with an attorney present.
Feinstein touted the federal government’s prosecutorial record, pointing to 435 terrorist convictions, and expressed confidence justice would prevail.
She said investigators would focus on the elder Tsarnaev’s six-month trip last year to Chechnya, after which he returned to the United States and began posting radical material on his YouTube account. Details of his whereabouts during the trip remain unclear.
“We will find out what happened during those 6 months.,” Feinstein said. “I think there is likely going to be an assessment that this was somebody who did want to participate in a jihadist event.
Still Feinstein cautioned against a rush to judgment, as speculation swirls that the brothers may have been operatives of al Qaeda.
“This came, at this point from two individuals. We do not know what their connections are,” Feinstein said. “So I think we ought to find out to charge them with all kinds of associations.”