Family of Boston bombing suspect struggles to find cemetery willing to accept body

Worcester funeral home holding body staked out by protesters

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died after a gun battle with police in April 19th. Photograph: Julia Malakie/AP

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died after a gun battle with police in April 19th. Photograph: Julia Malakie/AP

Wed, May 8, 2013, 07:10

The body of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev remains in limbo as his family search for a cemetery that will accept it.

Several Massachusetts cemeteries have refused to bury Tsarnaev, as protesters have staked out the Worcester funeral home holding the body. Despite a plea from the funeral home director, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick said on Monday that he would not get involved.

The controversy marked a rare period of discord in a state that was largely united after the attacks.

Tsarnaev (26) died in a gun battle with police on April 19th, four days after bombs he is believed to have set with his younger brother Dzhokhar killed three people and injured another 264 near the marathon finish line.

Relatives have said they want him buried nearby. Under Islamic law, the body cannot be cremated, a procedure used for criminals including Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

“The whole situation is unprecedented,” said David Walkinshaw, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Funeral Directors Association. The state of Massachusetts did not own its own cemeteries, he said, and the federal government only had cemeteries for war veterans.

“The challenge here is that there’s no way to demand a cemetery allow for a burial to take place,” Mr Walkinshaw added.

Some Massachusetts residents are reported to want the body sent back to Tsarnaev’s native Russia. In Washington, state department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said he was not aware that anyone from Russia or Massachusetts had contacted the department about it.

Gabriel Gomez, a Massachusetts Republican candidate for US senate, suggested disposing of Tsarnaev’s body in the ocean as was done after US forces killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Tsarnaev’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, said on Sunday that his nephew should be buried in Massachusetts, where he had lived. Tsarnaev’s parents, ethnic Chechens who returned to southern Russia several years ago, have suggested in various interviews and reports that their son should be buried in Cambridge or returned to Russia.

The Massachusetts governor said: “This is a family issue . . . and the family needs to make some decisions. I understand they have some options. They need to exercise one soon.”

Cambridge officials meanwhile have urged the Tsarnaevs to look elsewhere.

“The families of loved ones interred in the Cambridge cemetery also deserve to have their deceased family members rest in peace,” Cambridge city manager Robert Healy said. – (Reuters)