When Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arraigned in court the other day for the Boston marathon bombing and some allegedly related matters, it was not enough for the overwhelming majority of spectators who were hostile to him to express outrage because he pled not guilty on all counts, after Sources Familiar With The Investigation had told them so many times that he had confessed.
No, what really angered them was the demeanor he was perceived to display: a “smirk.” Thus, for example, the MIT Police Chief, one of whose officers Tsarnaev is accused of murdering three days after the marathon, told ABC News that he was “disgusted” by this alleged facial feature, and that the defendant “has absolutely no remorse.” (Well, Chief DiFava, aside from your interpretation of his demeanor, is it also possible that the demeanor you perceive is because he didn’t do it? Have you asked yourself, for example, why the Tsarnaev brothers would drive specifically to MIT in order to steal a weapon?)
Well, besides the principle that one is innocent until proven guilty (which is not honored merely by putting the word “alleged” in one place in an article and then forgetting it everywhere else), the media who reported such things on Wednesday or Thursday need to consider the following facts. (They were uncovered for American audiences through the diligent efforts of P. G. Trouche and medianotes6 in their comments on my last post.)
It will be recalled that the FBI would not allow the medical personnel at Beth Israel hospital to speak about Tsarnaev’s condition after he was brought there following his arrest on April 19. (Nor have the small number of investigative reporters who have been working on the case yet turned up anything, although one hopes they yet will.) Thus no report was ever released. However, it seems that they could not deny such information to his lawyer.
Thus Tsarnaev’s mother Zubeida obtained a medical report that was subsequently cited in the Russian publication Isvestia, as relayed to it by a family friend, Tatiana Eremenko. (Izvestia, incidentally, is generally supportive of the Russian government, which was anti-Tsarnaev before anyone in the US was.)
Here is Google translate’s version of two key paragraphs:
Doctors found on the body of 19-year-old Johar injured during the arrest, 16 bullet and stab wounds. As a result, it is completely deaf in his left ear and almost never sees the left eye.
Because of the bullet wound in the neck at Tsarnaeva deformed the whole left side of his face. The bullet pierced his neck, severed his left cheek and shattered skull. Also on the body Tsarnaeva Jr. found numerous woundos inflicted with a knife.
(The translation is so syntactically challenged that it cannot even recognize that when “Tsarnaeva” is not the feminine form of the name it is simply “Tsarnaev” in an oblique grammatical case. Of course, “almost never sees the left eye” is really “the left eye almost cannot see.” Nonetheless, upon spot checking I find that key terms are gotten right — “stab,” “deaf,” etc.)
The article goes on to say that the doctors had to patch up Tsarnaev’s jaw as if it were a jigsaw puzzle.
You will wonder where the knife wounds came from when the police were allegedly “only” shooting at him. For that matter, you will wonder how he was able to climb out of that boat where he was found by himself if he was already that badly injured.
But one issue at a time. The MIT Chief and the reporters who relayed sentiments like his should try expressing normal facial features only three months after major reconstructive surgery.