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Gov. Deval Patrick on Boston bomber burial: 'It’s the family’s issue'

Governor Deval Patrick today weighed in on the controversy surrounding burial plans for Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, telling reporters in New Bedford that the responsibility rests not with the state or federal government, but with Tsarnaev's family.

Police stand outside the Graham, Putnam & Mahoney funeral home in Worcester where the body of Boston Marathon bombings suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is currently being held.  PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO Police stand outside the Graham, Putnam & Mahoney funeral home in Worcester where the body of Boston Marathon bombings suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is currently being held.
PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

Governor Deval Patrick today weighed in on the controversy surrounding burial plans for Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, telling reporters in New Bedford that the responsibility rests not with the state or federal government, but with Tsarnaev's family.

"First of all, this isn’t a state or a federal issue; it’s the family’s issue," Patrick said. "And the family has some options. I assume they will make a decision soon. I hope they do. I think everybody is feeling upset about what happened. But we showed the world in the immediate aftermath of the attacks what a civilization looks like, and I’m proud of what we showed and I think we continue to do that by stepping back and let the family make their decisions."

Patrick, who was in New Bedford to break ground on the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, said he was unsure of the legal rights of communities that want to refuse the body, and that he hopes the family will make a decision soon.

While the governor declined to comment on whether he'd oppose Tsarnaev's burial in Massachusetts, he made it clear he is not worried about Tsarnaev's grave being a focal point of hate or praise, saying "We are a strong community. We have strong feelings about the people who hurt us, but I think our focus now has to be on prosecuting those involved, and getting to the end of the investigation, which is ongoing, and repairing our communities, so that we can move forward."

Katherine Russell, Tamerlan Tsarnaev's 24-year-old widow, has reportedly stopped cooperating with investigators. "I don’t have anything to say to his wife," Patrick said. "His wife is being questioned, I understand it, as a part of the investigation, and her relationship with the investigation is between her and her council and the investigators."

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
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