Friday, June 6, 2014

Tsarnaev Friend Testifies



The Dorchester Day Parade this year in Boston took place on Sunday, June 1. There was a special contingent representing the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation (Team MR8), a marathon racing team comprised mainly of runners from Dorchester, Massachusetts, the Boston neighborhood of the 8 year old boy who was killed in the Marathon bombing of 2013. A bus containing his family members, including his sister Jane who lost her leg, participated in the parade. The bus was decorated with the word “peace” and “no more hurting people,” recalling a popular drawing by Martin.
Meanwhile the drama continued in court with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s friends. On June 2, 2014 Dias Kadyrbayev testified that he did not understand what was going on when he waived his Miranda rights, and that he was intimidated into cooperating with searches of his home.
“I could only understand about 2/3 of what he was saying” stated Kate, who observed the hearing but had trouble following Dias’ thick Russian accent.
The morning started off with linguist Dr. Aneta Pavlenko of Temple University testifying for over two hours as an expert witness on the defendant’s level of English proficiency. 
“His proficiency was not adequate to understand the complexity of the Miranda warning,” Pavelenko testified. “Government agents are not competent to determine proficiency of understanding.” 
She said Dias should have been provided with a translator and asked to restate the Miranda warning in his own words.
A couple emails as well as an essay were shown as evidence of Dias’ ability or lack thereof. Prosecutors argued that mistakes were just typos while the expert witness pointed out patterns of linguistic usage that would indicate an Intermediate level of proficiency in the English language. Dr. Pavelenko testified that the defense relied on emails to determine Dias’ level of English ability up to the date of the arrest because they show his spontaneous use of language.
There was an English essay under dispute, which contained no major errors. Dr. Pavelenko testified that this essay could not have been written by the defendant by himself. Later, Dias testified that he got help from English speaking friends. He wrote his homework assignments using google translate, and by changing online examples of essays with a computer app.
Next on the stand, Dias stated that Russian was his first language, Khazar was his second and English was his third language. He studied English in grades 6-11 from a teacher who was Russian. Originally he had hoped to go to MIT but scored poorly on the SAT in English. UMass Dartmouth was more lenient.
Living on campus, Dias said, “I was chilling with Russians mostly.” He had trouble talking on the phone – he would hang up on friends and text them instead. He learned slang words like “what’s up” from listening. In prison he has been studying the dictionary and for the SAT and has read 76 books in English to improve his skills.
Dias, his girlfriend Bayan, and Azamat Tazhayakov shared an apartment in Bedford, MA in 2012. Azamat’s phone was charging when a friend via VK (Russian version of Facebook) told Azamat a police officer called. He called back. Police had already questioned Saghar, an Indian friend, so they were expecting the police to similarly come over in 15 minutes to ask questions. Five hours later Bayan looked outside and saw 4 police cars and a SWAT team aiming their guns at them, the lasers’ red dots were on Bayan. Azamat came into the room and Dias told him not to move because he was afraid the police would shoot anyone who moved.
The police were yelling, “Jahar come out!” The students came out with their hands up,  Azamat first. They made them take off their shirts and pull down their pants, then handcuffed Dias so roughly that he was forced to kneel. He was put in the back seat of a car for three hours with a sniper standing a foot away from his open door. FBI agent John Walker sat in the front of the car and said, “Listen to me, where the **** is Jahar, don’t **** with me, tell me where the **** he is!”
“I kept on saying ‘I don’t know, I don’t know.’ I was scared,” Dias testified. “I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
It seemed like Walker was “looking through me.” His “vibe” was very alarming in its “intensity,” Dias said.
Walker asked if he could look in the house for Jahar, in case he left something dangerous. “I didn’t think there was anything dangerous in the apartment.” said Dias. He gave Walker his keys so the FBI could search the house without breaking the door. Walker took ten minutes to cut off the tight “plastic hangers” (handcuffs) with a knife, which left a mark on his hand. He was asked to sign a consent to search the property.
“Maybe I read the paper or maybe I didn’t, but I signed it to end the conversation.” Dias testified. He was re-handcuffed and transferred to a police car, where he heard on the radio that they caught Jahar.
“Can I go now since you got him?” he asked the police. Maybe, maybe not, he was told.
“When will we go go? Where are we going?” We gotta wait, he was told. “It was clear I couldn’t go.”
At the police barracks he was interrogated by Special Agent Azad. Dias stated that “he went on putting words in my mouth.” After other officers later showed Dias the notes special agents took during interrogation, Dias noticed words he didn’t recognize in English.
He was never told he was under arrest. He was told, “Don’t worry, school issues,” as he was handcuffed. When Dias noticed the word lawyer on Miranda form and asked if he needed one, Agent Azad said “Oh no, you’re fine. You’re helping us.”
Dias asked “what do you mean ‘in custody’?”
“Regardless of how well he spoke and understood English at the time, it’s been established that FBI agents specifically altered and added to Dias’s responses during the interrogation to things he never said,” court observer Jill told TMO.
The government alleges that at 3:30am on April 19, 2013, before Tsarnaev’s name was released to the public, Dias told associate on VK that Jahar was the bomber. What Dias actually said was that he recognized Jahar as the guy in the white hat on TV.
The government also stated that after visiting Jahar on April 18, Dias visited multiple English websites: FBI, CNN, FoxNews, NewYorker, CBSlocal, WCVB, FBI again, and googled variations of Jahar’s name.
Dias will continue to testify on June 3. A bail hearing for Khairullozhon Matanov, a fourth friend of Jahar’s who was arrested last week will take place June 4.

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