LAWMAKERS may seek a federal case against the man accused of the Boston Marathon bombings so the death penalty can be sought. 

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, remained in a serious condition at a city hospital today.

The ABC reported that the 19-year-old is reportedly awake and responding in writing to questions from authorities.

America's ABC and NBC networks reported that he was responding in writing to questions from law enforcement officials.


Tsarnaev is believed to have been shot in the throat and sustained tongue damage in the firefight.

Debate raged in Washington about what the FBI knew about the activities his elder brother Tamerlan, the second suspect who was killed in a gun battle with police early on Friday.

Prosecutors were said to be preparing federal terrorism charges against the surviving Tsarnaev brother, who was captured after a massive manhunt last week and rushed, bleeding and severely injured, to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre.

The New York Times was reporting the death penalty may be sought.

Reports in the US media suggested 19-year-old Dzhokhar might also face state murder charges.

The charges were expected to be filed as early as last night.

The hospital, where many of the wounded were also taken after the marathon bombings last Monday, remained under heavy guard yesterday.

A specialist interrogation team is waiting to question Dzhokhar as soon as he is in a position to talk.

The severity of his wounds, sustained during the gun battle early on Friday, is thought to be delaying the interrogation. NBC News quoted a senior law enforcement source as saying he was suffering from an injury to his throat.

USA Today was reporting that the injury to his throat may have been self-inflicted.

Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino told ABC News yesterday the surviving suspect was in "a very serious condition" and without elaborating added: "We don't know if we'll ever be able to question the individual."

Police say more attacks were planned by bombers

The city's police commissioner, Ed Davis, said it was his belief the two brothers were planning more attacks.

"We have reason to believe, based upon the evidence found at the scene - the explosions, the explosive ordnance that was unexploded and the firepower they had - that they were going to attack other individuals," he told CBS.

The blasts led to the death of three people and wounded more than 170. The suspects, immigrants of Chechen origin who lived in Cambridge, are also accused of fatally shooting a campus police officer on the grounds of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology late on Thursday.

While the state of Massachusetts does not have the death penalty on its statute books, prosecutors could seek such a sentence at the federal level.

Boston is shut down at the site of the bombing earlier this week.
Boston is shut down at the site of the bombing earlier this week.

Already, the case has raised legal questions, after it emerged interrogators planned to grill Dzhokhar without reading him his rights.

Officials are allowed to invoke an exception to giving him the so-called Miranda warning - that he has the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer - in narrow circumstances where there is an immediate public safety threat.

However, Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the New York Times that while it would be acceptable for the authorities to press on without the Miranda warning before asking if there were other bombs in the Boston area, they must not "cut corners" once they ventured more broadly.

Meanwhile, in Washington, lawmakers continued to ask questions about what the FBI knew about the elder Tsarnaev brother, Tamerlan, 26. An unnamed government, reported to be Russia's, contacted the agency in early 2011, asking for information about Tamerlan.

"The request stated it was based on information he was follower of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States to the country's region to join unspecified underground groups," the FBI said.

The agency responded by checking databases, and interviewing Tamerlan and his family members. But it "did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign".

In a further development, the boys' father, Anzor Tsarnaev, reportedly told Channel 4 News that Tamerlan had called his mother on Wednesday - two days after the bombing - to tell her the FBI had contacted him and they believed he was behind the deadly attack.

Tamerlan reportedly told her that he responded to the FBI accusation by saying "that's your problem".

Representative Peter King, the Republican chairman of the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, told Fox News yesterday the bombings were "the latest in a series of cases like this... where the FBI is given information about someone as being a potential terrorist".

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said either the FBI had failed or US laws weren't strict enough. "The ball was dropped in one of two ways," he told CNN.

"The FBI missed a lot of things, is one potential answer, or our laws do not allow the FBI to follow up in a sound solid way."

As Bostonians reflected on the events of the past week, some looked at the wider impact of the bombings.

One analyst quoted by Bloomberg Businessweek estimated the shutdown of the city's transport network and businesses could have cost Boston up to $333million  a day.

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