Arrested Turkish-Iranian businessman’s hearing postponed
NEW YORK – Doğan News AgencyThe hearing of Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, who is being tried in the United States on money laundering and sanction-breaching charges, has been postponed, Judge Richard Berman announced on Aug. 31.
The hearing was scheduled to be held on Sept. 6, but was canceled after Zarrab’s lawyers demanded that Berman be recused, claiming that the judge may not be impartial due to his statements on Turkey’s December 2013 corruption probe against top government officials.
Upon Zarrab’s lawyers’ demand, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office told Berman that they would send an answer regarding the recusal request.
Berman then ordered the prosecutor’s office to send a reply to Zarrab’s application by Sept. 14.
Zarrab’s lawyers will then have to send a reply to the prosecutor’s office’s request by Sept. 21 at the latest.
During Zarrab’s first hearing, Berman opened the trial by mentioning the “Justice and State of Law” symposium held in May 2014 in Istanbul, in which Bharara criticized the Turkish legal system and cited Zarrab’s dropped case in Turkey as a basis for this.
Zarrab 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.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is believed to have been behind the failed July 15 coup attempt, of leading the December 2013 graft probe.