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Published: Thursday January 16, 2014 MYT 2:05:03 AM
Updated: Thursday January 16, 2014 MYT 2:06:14 AM

Friends of accused Boston bomber due in court

BOSTON (Reuters) - Three college friends of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are due in court on Wednesday for a hearing ahead of their trial on charges they helped hide his tracks from the FBI.

The three are charged with removing a laptop and backpack with empty fireworks shells from Tsarnaev's dormitory room, in response to a text message instructing them to do so, three days after the April 15, 2013, attack that killed three people and injured 264.

All three have pleaded not guilty.

Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both exchange students from Kazakhstan, face obstruction of justice charges and, if convicted, could face 25 years in prison or deportation.

Robel Phillipos, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been charged with lying to investigators and could face up to 16 years in prison.

Kadyrbayev and Phillipos in a joint motion filed with prosecutors asked that the trial be scheduled for January 2015, while Tazhayakov asked for quicker proceedings, with a trial to begin in July 2014.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Gunna Dickson)

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