The uncle of slain Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev arrived in Massachusetts to arrange for his nephew’s burial, while the funeral director struggled to find a cemetery in the state willing to take the body.
Ruslan Tsarni arrived on Sunday with three of his friends and prepared to wash and shroud his nephew’s body according to Muslim tradition. The 26-year-old died after a gun battle with police on April 19.
Tsarni, of Maryland, said he understands that “no one wants to associate their names with such evil events.”
Funeral director Peter Stefan said he has not been able to find a cemetery in Massachusetts willing to take the body. He said he plans to ask the city of Cambridge, where Tsarnaev lived, to provide a burial plot, and if Cambridge turns him down, he will seek help from state officials.
Cambridge City Manager Robert Healy said in a statement on Sunday there has been no formal application for a burial permit or purchase of a cemetery plot. He said he is urging Tsarnaev’s family and the funeral director who has the body not to request a burial permit for the city-owned Cambridge Cemetery.
Healy said the city “would be adversely impacted by the turmoil, protests, and widespread media presence at such an interment.”
He said the families who have loved ones interred at the cemetery also deserve to have their deceased family members rest in peace.
Healey said other federal agencies should take the lead in the burial.
Tsarni told reporters that he is arranging for Tsarnaev’s burial because religion and tradition call for his nephew to be buried.
“I’m dealing with logistics. A dead person must be buried,” he said.
He said he was grateful to Stefan for agreeing to arrange the burial and to his friends for accompanying him to Massachusetts to aid with the funeral.
“These are my friends who feel for me ... as I do understand no one wants to associate their names with such evil events,” he said.
Tsarnaev, who had appeared in surveillance photos wearing a black cap and was identified as Suspect No. 1, died days after the April 15 bombing at the marathon finish line, which killed three people and wounded more than 260 others. His brother, Dzhokhar, was captured.
Stefan said he has received calls from people criticizing him and calling him “un-American” for being willing to handle Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s funeral.
“We take an oath to do this. Can I pick and choose? No. Can I separate the sins from the sinners? No,” he said. “We are burying a dead body. That’s what we do.”
A half dozen protesters gathered outside the funeral home on Sunday holding signs and US flags and chanting “USA!”
One sign read: “Do not bury him on US soil.”