BOSTON -- Robel Phillipos, the former University of Massachusetts student who is accused of lying to the authorities investigating the Boston Marathon bombings, will seek to be released from federal custody today, his lawyers said in court papers filed over the weekend.
The lawyers said Mr. Phillipos, 19, had nothing to do with the bombings and was frightened and confused when he was interrogated about going with two other friends to the college dorm room of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two chief suspects in the case, and removing a backpack and fireworks that the investigators consider to be evidence..
As Congress gears up this week for its first hearings on the Boston Marathon bombings, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said Sunday that he believed the brothers did not act alone.
"It's very difficult to believe that these two could have carried out this level of attack with this level of sophistication and precision acting by themselves, either without training from overseas or having at least facilitators here at home," Mr. King, a former chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said on the CNN program "State of the Union."
Noting that there were multiple explosive devices involved, he added: "No, I think there had to be assistance, and that's why the FBI, I think, is going after this so vigorously and effectively."
The House Committee on Homeland Security has scheduled hearings on the bombings for Thursday.
So far, only Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged in carrying out the bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260 others on April 15 near the finish line of Boston's prestigious race. His brother, Tamerlan, 26, died after the brothers tried to elude the authorities; according to his death certificate, he was killed by gunshot wounds and blunt trauma after being hit by an SUV driven by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as he fled.
On Sunday, an uncle of the Tsarnaev brothers arrived with three friends at a funeral home in Worcester, Mass., to prepare Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body for burial, although the question was where.
"I'm dealing with logistics," said the uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, a businessman from Maryland who said he had not seen either of the Tsarnaev brothers in about five years. "A dead person needs to be buried -- that's what tradition requires, that's what religion requires, that's what morals require."
Peter Stefan, the owner of the Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors, has been criticized for accepting the body. On Sunday, a small group of protesters gathered with American flags and signs with phrases like "Bury this terrorist on US soil and we will unbury him."
Mr. Stefan has been unable to find a cemetery willing to accept the body and said he planned to call cemeteries with areas reserved for Muslims, as well as the city of Cambridge, Mass., where Tamerlan Tsarnaev lived.
"There is no other place to be buried," Mr. Tsarni said. "He lived in America."
But Cambridge city manager Robert Healy pre-emptively issued a statement on Sunday urging Mr. Stefan and the family not to make such a request. "I have determined that it is not in the best interest of 'peace within the city' to execute a cemetery deed for a plot within the Cambridge Cemetery for the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev," said Mr. Healy, who said that federal officials should handle it.
The uncle said he planned to visit Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is in a medical prison center at Fort Devens, Mass. "This is another person left all to himself," Mr. Tsarni said. "There's no one to be next to him."
Mr. Phillipos is to appear today in U.S. District Court in Boston and will ask to be released on bond, his lawyers said. In a criminal complaint filed last week, federal investigators said Mr. Phillipos had given three different versions of events on the night of April 18 -- the day when the FBI released photographs of two men whom the authorities had identified as suspects -- until he admitted that he and two other friends had gone to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room on the campus of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
The other two friends -- Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, originally from Kazakhstan -- have been charged with obstruction of justice and destroying evidence, and each face a five-year prison sentence and $250,000 in fines. They are to appear in court next week. Mr. Phillipos, an American, faces a stiffer sentence: eight years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Mr. Phillipos' lawyers, Derege Demissie and Susan Church, said in the court papers that the charges against their client were "refutable."
They said that he was no longer enrolled at the college, and by "sheer coincidence and bad luck," he happened to be on campus for a seminar on April 18.