World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkish businessman Riza Sarraf will take the witness stand in the trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, deputy general manager of Turkey’s Halkbank, according to U.S. federal prosecutors.
The hearing began Tuesday after U.S. District Judge Richard Berman rejected a request by Atilla’s lawyers for a two-week delay.
Officials from the prosecutor’s office said Sarraf accepted the six charges he is accused of, adding “he would testify as a witness in court”.
- Prosecutor defends FETO-linked police
The prosecutor’s office directed all charges Sarraf is accused of to Atilla.
It defended voice recordings it had submitted to the court as evidence and refused to reveal their source.
David Denton, the deputy prosecuting attorney, said the FETO-linked police who made the recordings did their job.
He also said they would testify as witnesses.
Victor Rocco, Atilla’s lawyer, rejected the charges his client is accused of, saying “Atilla was one of the victims of Sarraf.”
Mentioning that Atilla had travelled to the U.S twice after Sarraf was remanded, Rocco also criticized the voice recordings.
He asked the jury: "What would you do if U.S. prosecutors made voice recordings and gave them to another country without the permission of the government, and then they were used as evidence?"
The names of the prosecution’s witnesses were also announced during the hearing.
Sarraf was expected to testify Tuesday but didn’t appear before the jury as the testimonies and cross examination of the first three witnesses took a long time.
Sidhardha Kamaraju, an official from the prosecutor’s office, said Sarraf would begin testifying on the second day of the hearing, adding the testimony process was expected to take three days.
Kamaraju said Sarraf would be taken to court from his cell.
FBI Special Agent James Atwater, the first witness of the prosecution to be listened in court today, answered questions regarding Sarraf’s being taken into custody at JFK Airport and later being remanded.
Lisa Palluconi, a sanctions coordinator on Iran in the Foreign Assets Control Office of the U.S. Treasury Department, gave information about U.S. sanctions on Iran’s financial and banking system as the prosecution’s second witness.
The court also listened to Mark Dubowitz, who works at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, as an expert witness on Iran’s economy, petroleum and natural gas sector amid U.S sanctions.
Sarraf 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.
Turkey recently launched a probe against U.S. prosecutors connected to the Sarraf 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 Sarraf, was fired on March 11 as part of a mass Trump administration expulsion of holdover U.S. attorneys.Last Mod: 29 Kasım 2017, 10:17