Arrested Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab claims US judge bias
NEW YORK – Doğan News Agency
AA photoLawyers of the arrested Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, who is being tried in the U.S. on money laundering and sanction-breaching charges, has demanded recusation, claiming that the judge hearing his case may not be impartial due to his statements on Turkey’s December 2013 corruption probe against top government officials.
Appealing for the replacement of Judge Richard Berman, Zarrab’s lawyers argued that his remarks about the Dec. 17, 2013 probe during the “Justice and State of Law” symposium held in May 2014 in Istanbul, in which he criticized the Turkish legal system and cited Zarrab’s dropped case in Turkey as a basis for this, brought Berman’s impartiality into question.
The lawyers also said this doubt over Berman emerged with recent developments in Turkey since the July 15 coup attempt.
During Zarrab’s first hearing, Berman opened the trial by mentioning the May 2014 symposium he attended, and Zarrab’s lawyer Benjamin Brafman said at the time that his attendance to the event would not affect his objectivity in the case.
Zarrab’s next trial is scheduled for Sept. 6.
He was the prime suspect in a corruption and bribery scandal involving the Turkish government that went public on Dec. 17, 2013. He is accused of being the ringleader of a money laundering and gold smuggling ring in Turkey that circumvented sanctions against Iran.
The charges were dismissed after prosecutors investigating case were accused by the ruling party and then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of plotting against the government and removed from their posts.
Four former cabinet members - EU Minister Egemen Bağış, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, Interior Minister Muammer Güler and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar - were accused in the probe before the cases were dropped.
Erdoğan and the ruling AKP accused followers of the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen of using the case to plot against the government, before launching a huge crackdown on the group in state institutions, security bodies, and the private sector.