A U.S. jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty of the Boston Marathon bombing, and his own lawyer admitted it in court, but a relative said Thursday that she remains convinced that he and his now-dead elder brother had no reason to carry out such a terrorist attack.
Tsarnaev was found guilty on Wednesday of all 30 counts against him, and now the same jury in Boston must decide whether he should be sentenced to death or to life in prison.
Roza Tsarnaeva, a 66-year-old cousin of Tsarnaev's father, told The Associated Press in Chechnya that she is "completely convinced that they were not guilty of this."
"When something happens the first thing you have to do is ask 'who needs this?' These boys didn't need this," she said. "They never saw war, they were little when they arrived in the U.S. and grew up there.
"No one in the Tsarnaev family, none of the relatives, ever took part in the military campaigns in Chechnya" in which separatists, some of them radical Islamists, fought two wars against Russian troops, she said.
Tsarnaeva claimed that the Boston bombing was "the doing of the American secret services, although with what aim I don't know."
Relatives of the Tsarnaev brothers in Chechnya, the republic in southern Russia that is the family's ancestral homeland, have consistently expressed disbelief that the brothers carried out the April 2013 bombing. They also have long put forth the unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that the bombing was carried out by the U.S. secret services.
Their father, who lives in the neighboring republic of Dagestan, has not answered repeated phone calls or responded to text messages seeking his comment.