US prosecutors have been authorised to seek the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, suspected of carrying out the Boston bombings.
“The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision,” the US Attorney General Eric Holder said.
Prosecutors accuse the 20-year-old and his dead brother of planting the devices at the 2013 Boston Marathon that killed three people including an eight-year-old boy and injured 264. Some lost limbs.
Days after the atrocity, Tsarnaev’s older brother Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police in which an officer died.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was injured, is also accused over that killing and has pleaded not guilty to all charges. After after a manhunt he was eventually found hiding in a boat.
The death penalty charge will be under federal law. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has criticised the decision, pointing out that Massachusetts – where the bombings happened – abolished capital punishment decades ago.
A Boston Globe survey found last year that 57 percent of Boston residents favoured life in prison for Tsarnaev, if he is convicted, with 33 percent in favour of execution.