Uncle meets resistance in planning Tsarnaev's burial

12:00 PM, May 6, 2013   |    comments
Ruslan Tsarni, left, departs the Graham, Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Parlors in Worcester, Mass., as funeral director and owner Peter Stefan walks him to his car May 5. (Photo: Steven Senne, AP)
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(USATODAY.com) - Relatives of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited the Graham, Putnum & Mahoney Funeral Parlors on Sunday, planning to wash Tsarnaev's body in the traditional Islamic fashion and make funeral arrangements, The Boston Globe reported.

Tsarnaev's uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, is overseeing the burial arrangements, although where the burial takes place has not been determined. Some local cemeteries have rejected requests to bury Tsarnaev, the Globe said.

A handful of flag-waving protesters had stood outside the funeral home in Worcester, Mass., on Saturday. One sign read: "Do not bury him on U.S. soil." Several people drove by the funeral home Sunday and yelled, including one man who shouted, "Throw him off a boat like Osama bin Laden!"

Tsarnaev and his young brother, Dzhokhar, are Muslims from the Chechen area of Russia. Tamerlan, 26, was killed in a gunbattle with police days after the April 15 bombings. Dzhokhar, 19, is being held on charges that could being the death penalty.

Tsarni has denounced them both, saying they brought shame to their family and to the Chechen community.

Tsarni said he appreciated the help of the funeral home's director, Peter Stefan. He said he understands that "no one wants to associate their names with such evil acts" as the bombings that killed three people and left more than 260 injured.

"Tamerlan Tsarnaev has no other place to be buried. There is no other place to accept this body," Tsarni said. "He lived in America. He grew up here and for the last 10 years he decided to be in Cambridge. ... His home 'country' is Cambridge, Mass."

Stefan said Tsarni told him he is eager to bury his nephew. "They just want to get it over with," Stefan said.

The funeral director, whom some people have called "un-American" for being willing to handle Tsarnaev's funeral, said he has a professional obligation.

"We take an oath to do this. Can I pick and choose? No. Can I separate the sins from the sinners? No," Stefan said. "We are burying a dead body. That's what we do."

The state medical examiner ruled that Tsarnaev died from gunshot wounds and blunt trauma to his head and torso, and released the body Friday. Stefan said representatives from the family's legal team would likely photograph the body before it is washed.

After the body is washed, no further medical examination can be conducted without violating the religious burial tradition, Stefan said.

"Once that body is washed and shrouded, the only place we're going after that is to the cemetery," Stefan said.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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