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Tamerlan Tsarnaev burial in Virginia appears legal, sheriff says

The burial of Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a Muslim cemetery in Virginia appears to be legal, according to the county sheriff who investigated the secretive undertaking.

Tsarnaev, 26, was buried at the Al-Barzakh Cemetery in Doswell, Va., last week after relatives and a funeral director in Worcester, Mass., unsuccessfully sought a burial place for more than a week.

Tsarnaev’s remains were washed and ready to be buried, but cemeteries in several cities refused to take the body, fearing protests and desecration. And as a Muslim, the 26-year-old’s body could not be cremated. Attempts to send the body back to his native Russia also failed.

Disgusted by all the furor, a Christian woman, Marsha Mullen of Richmond, Va., stepped in as a gesture of kindness. She emailed religious leaders and others to find a final resting place for Tsarnaev.

Al-Barzakh offered a plot.

Tsarnaev’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, took possession of the body and moved it to Virginia. On Thursday of last week, it was revealed the suspect in the bombings that killed three and wounded more than 200 others had been buried.

“I buried him with my own hands,” Tsarni told NBCWashington.com on Friday. “It’s over.”

In the first congressional hearing on the Boston bombings many questions remained unanswered, such as why the FBI didn't involve Boston's law enforcement when assessing whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a terrorist threat. The FBI investigated Tsarnaev two years ago after receiving a tip from Russian authorities. NBC's Pete Williams reports

Hours after the burial, Caroline County officials asked the state to investigate whether it was done properly or if laws had been broken. Neighbors protested a police presence at the cemetery.

Late Saturday, Caroline County Sheriff Tony Lippa issued a statement, saying his office had reviewed the death certificate, burial permit, transportation permit for movement of the body from Massachusetts to Virginia as well as other documents. He consulted with David Storke, mayor of the county seat of Bowling Green, who also happens to be a funeral home owner.

“It would appear that all paperwork is in order at this point. I am still awaiting return phone calls from the Islamic Society of Greater Richmond, Islamic Funeral Services and Worcester Police Chief Gary J. Gemme,” Lippa’s statement said.

Lippa said some security was provided at the gravesite on Friday. There were no reported incidents. He vowed not to divert limited government resources to protect the gravesite, “especially one belonging to that terrorist.”

“Unfortunately we now find ourselves forever connected to this tragedy in the most unsavory way,” he said in his statement, “as the final resting place of one of the alleged terrorists."

His brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is in a prison hospital in Massachusetts awaiting trial on federal terrorism charges.

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