Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab will not go on trial: US judge
The judge in the trial of Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla announced late on Nov. 27 that a jury of 12, including six alternates, has been selected and Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab will not face trial.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman added that opening arguments will begin on the morning of Nov. 28.
In the first session of the jury selection, 12 out of 82 jury candidates were determined.
The selected jurors were asked whether they had any links with the persons or organizations mentioned in the defense, prosecution and indictment as well as whether they had any positive or negative thoughts towards Muslims, Turkish and Iranian citizens.
The names of the jurors will remain private as Berman had previously asked the court translators to keep the names confidential.
In addition, jurors were also requested not to follow any news related to the case during the trial and not to speak to anyone about the case.
The trial will start at 9:30 a.m. (14:30GMT) and Berman will meet with jury members at 9:15 a.m. before the hearing.
Earlier on Nov. 27, Berman said Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab would not face trial. Instead, Atilla, who is deputy general manager of Turkey’s Halkbank, will be the only defendant, Berman told jurors in Manhattan, adding the trial would last three to four weeks.
Zarrab was detained last year on charges of violating sanctions against Iran while Atilla was arrested in the U.S. earlier this year on similar sanctions violations charges.
Earlier on the same day, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ called on the U.S. administration to drop the case involving Zarrab.
“I am asking those judging the case in the U.S., do you have correct evidence against Reza Zarrab or not? The case ‘lacks legal grounds and must be dropped or terminated,’” Bozdağ said.
Turkey recently launched a probe against U.S. prosecutors connected to the Zarrab case.
Istanbul prosecutors accused former U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York Preet Bharara and Joon H. Kim, the district’s current acting attorney, of using information and documents from previous investigations in Turkey for an ongoing case in the U.S.
Bharara, who launched the probe into Zarrab, was fired on March 11 as part of a mass Trump administration expulsion of holdover U.S. attorneys.