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McDonnell: Cemetery had right to bury Boston suspect

The Al-Barzakh Islamic Cemetery where Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is buried in Doswell, Va. (Cliff Owen/AP) (Cliff Owen/AP)

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell might wish that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev hadn’t been buried in Virginia, but he said the cemetery owners had every right to accept his body.

“That wouldn’t have been my choice, but it’s a cemetery, it’s a religious cemetery,” McDonnell said Monday. “My understanding is we don’t regulate those and it’s really a matter of private property.

McDonnell made the comment Monday in response to questions from reporters after a bill-signing ceremony for a $1.4-billion-a-year transportation-funding measure.

On Friday, news broke that Tsarnaev had been quietly interred at Al-Barzakh Cemetery, an Islamic burial ground in Doswell, about three miles east of Kings Dominion. The cemetery offered to take his body after those in the Boston area refused. A Richmond woman who’d heard a news report about the body being turned away helped connect the cemetery with Massachusetts officials.

Some Doswell residents and officials are upset by the burial, saying they had not been consulted and expressing concern that terrorists would make pilgrimages to his resting place.

“There are a lot of things that people do with their private property that they’re entitled to do under the Constitution that maybe some of us would make a different choice about,” McDonnell said. “But I think the state doesn’t interfere with regulating who’s buried in a private cemetery. So, would I prefer [him] to be buried somewhere else? Sure. But that’s the choice that this private property owner has made and that’s their choice.”

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.

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