‘I was offended,’ says Iranian-Azeri businessman Zarrab after students who called him ‘thief’ beaten
MUĞLA – Doğan News Agency
DHA PhotoA high-level suspect in Turkey’s corruption probe, Reza Zarrab, has said he was offended when a group of students called him a “thief,” in a testimony delivered to police after his bodyguards beat two men.
“I was offended when the youngsters shouted, ‘There’s a thief here,’ in front of my wife, child, and friends. I wanted to warn them after docking, but a scuffle erupted,” Zarrab said at a police station, where he stayed for about three hours, adding that he would not file a complaint.
Students from Istanbul Technical University reportedly shouted at the Iranian-born Azeri businessman when they saw Zarrab’s yacht in a bay in the touristic town of Bodrum on June 19, where they were participating in a boat tour.
“There’s a thief here! What money did you use to buy that yacht?” the students shouted.
After docking, a number of men, who are allegedly Zarrab’s bodyguard and driver, approached the students and beat them.
Zarrab, who was charged with forming a ring that bribed officials to help disguise illegal gold sales to Iran via Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank, is considered the key suspect of the graft investigation that hit the headlines last December.
The students, identified only as B.B. and Y.C., were taken to Bodrum State Hospital after the beating. Along with four friends, they went to police station to testify after leaving the hospital.
The students have not filed an official complaint, according to reports.
“We used our most democratic right to show our reaction against someone who is known by everyone. We did not insult him, but asked a few simple questions,” B.B. said in his testimony. “They insulted us. They threatened us. We were assaulted when we got off the boat. We apologized to each other at the police station. We have given up filing a complaint. What would happen if we did?”
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu has submitted a parliamentary question to Interior Minister Efkan Ala regarding the incident.