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Robel Phillipos after release in Boston bombings: 'This is crazy'

A courtroom sketch of defendant Robel Phillipos. (May

A courtroom sketch of defendant Robel Phillipos. (May 1, 2013) Credit: AP

BOSTON -- A federal judge Monday released one of the friends of Boston Marathon suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on $100,000 bond, on the condition he remain in his mother's home and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

Robel Phillipos, whose bond was secured by property put up by a third party, was set free late Monday afternoon.

The development came as controversy swirled over where to bury Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two suspects in the April 15 bombings: Protesters called for his remains to be laid to rest anywhere but on U.S. soil.

His mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva called the director of a Worcester, Mass., funeral home where Tsarnaev's body awaits burial and asked that he do what he can to get the body back to Russia, the director said Monday.

Peter Stefan, of Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlor, said Tsarnaeva was crying as she made the request.

"She's still his mother," Stefan said.

But others said they would be willing to bury Tsarnaev. Sheikh Abu-Omar Almubarac, the founder of the organization that built Colorado's largest mosque, said he offered to bury Tsarnaev in a Denver-area Muslim cemetery as long as his family can get the body to Denver.

Wearing an oversized black men's jacket over a white dress shirt, Phillipos was ushered by his family and lawyers into a waiting car outside the courthouse. U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler said Phillipos, 19, will be allowed to leave his mother's home for medical emergencies or to see his attorney.

Despite agreeing to Phillipos' pretrial release, "The government stands by its allegations," said Assistant U.S. Attorney John Capin. Outside court, attorneys for Phillipos said he was unaware of the plot to launch the marathon bombings.

"At no time did Robel have any prior knowledge of this marathon bombing, nor did he participate in any of the planning done by the defendant in this case," said his attorney, Susan Church. Phillipos was a marketing major with a minor in sociology at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and was to graduate in 2015, according to papers filed with the court.

The university has said Phillipos was not enrolled at the time of his arrest. Phillipos, of Cambridge, Mass., was arrested by the FBI last week along with two other men after allegedly lying about disposing of evidence from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room at the university.

The move to allow Phillipos to go free on bail is a shift for federal prosecutors, who last week said they thought Phillipos was a flight risk and should continue to be detained.

Papers filed before the hearing by Phillipos' attorney and U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said the lawyers had agreed on a plan to free Phillipos.

"Since the initial appearance, the parties have conferred extensively and now agree that the court can fashion strict conditions of release that will reasonably assure the defendant's appearance at future proceedings," the court papers said.

Phillipos faces up to 8 years in prison if convicted.

Authorities said he lied to investigators about visiting Tsarnaev's dorm room three days after the bombings.

Phillipos' lawyers argued that his presence on the UMass-Dartmouth campus the day the other friends allegedly removed evidence from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's room was a coincidence.

With Gary Dymski and AP

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