Turkey calls US trial of Turkish banker 'legal disgrace'

FILE- In this Dec. 15, 2017 courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Mehmet Atilla, right, testifies during his trial on corruption charges in New York. The Turkish banker accused of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions has been convicted Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, by a jury in New York, after a trial that sowed distrust between the two nations. He was convicted of four conspiracy counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, plus one bank fraud count. He was acquitted of a money laundering charge. (Elizabeth Williams via AP, File)
In this courtroom sketch, the jury foreperson reads the verdict as defendant Mehmet Atilla, foreground far right, listens at the United States Courthouse in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. Atilla was convicted on charges that he took part in a complex scheme in which Iran traded its oil and gas for gold, with some of the proceeds moved through U.S. financial institutions without their knowledge. Atilla's attorney Victor Rocco foreground second left, and Judge Richard Berman is seated on the bench. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
In this courtroom sketch, defendant Mehmet Atilla, center left, sits with his attorneys at the defense table during his trial at the United States Courthouse in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. Atilla was convicted on charges that he took part in a complex scheme where Iran traded its oil and gas for gold, with some of the proceeds moved through U.S. financial institutions without their knowledge. From left are defense attorney Victor Rocco, Atilla and defense attorney Cathy Fleming. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey on Thursday slammed the conviction in New York of a Turkish banker accused of helping Iran evade sanctions as a "legal disgrace."

A day after Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a 47-year-old deputy general manager of state-run Halkbank was found guilty of five counts including bank fraud, Turkey's deputy prime minister, Bekir Bozdag, took to Twitter to describe the trial as a "political conspiracy" of "no legal value to Turkey."

The trial of Atilla, which included testimony suggesting high-level corruption in Turkey, has strained ties between NATO allies Turkey and the United States.

"Turkey is a full sovereign and fully independent country," Bozdag said. "Another country cannot put Turkey's institutions on trial."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said: "This is a scandalous verdict in a scandalous trial."

Among the charges that stuck, Atilla was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the United States. He was acquitted of a money laundering charge.

Turkey's foreign ministry also accused U.S. government officials of helping people linked to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen make false claims and provide false evidence — a reference to reports that a former Turkish deputy police chief told the jury during his testimony that the FBI paid him $50,000 and U.S. prosecutors covered his rent.

Turkey maintains the trial was based on Turkish corruption investigations in 2013, which it claims were hatched by Gulen's followers to bring down the government. Erdogan has accused Gulen of being behind a failed 2016 coup attempt and is seeking his extradition.

Atilla was charged by U.S. authorities with taking part in a complex scheme in which Iran traded its oil and gas for gold, with some of the proceeds moving through U.S. financial institutions without their knowledge.

The prosecution's star witness, Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader who admitted orchestrating the deals with Iran, testified that he paid over $50 million in bribes to Turkey's finance minister in 2012 to advance the scheme and that he believed Erdogan knew about the plot.

Halkbank issued a statement on Thursday distancing itself from the trial.

"As well as our bank not being a party to the trial, no administrative or financial decision has been taken against our bank," it said.

In a related development, Turkish authorities on Thursday issued warrants for the detention of the former police official who testified in court and was preparing to seek his extradition from the United States, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

The police official, Huseyin Korkmaz, said he was arrested and imprisoned for 18 months over the 2013 corruption probes before fleeing Turkey, taking evidence with him. Some of that material, including documents and recorded phone calls, was introduced at Atilla's trial. Turkish authorities last month issued detention warrants for Korkmaz's parents, wife and siblings.

Turkey's leaders lashed out throughout the trial, with Erdogan calling it an American conspiracy to "blackmail" and "blemish" his country.

In the United States, acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said Atilla was convicted after a "full, fair and open trial." Defense attorney Victor Rocco promised to appeal.

___

Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister in New York contributed.

Must Read

IS targets Iraq Embassy in Kabul; all 4 attackers...

Jul 31, 2017

IS suicide bombing targets Iraq Embassy in Kabul; hours-long gunbattle ends hours later with all 4...

Afghan official says blast at Shiite mosque kills...

Aug 1, 2017

An Afghan hospital official says the death toll in the suicide attack inside a minority Shiite...

At least 20 people killed in mosque attack in...

Aug 25, 2017

Officials say an attack on a mosque in the Afghan capital of Kabul has killed at least 20 people...

Taliban suicide bomber targets Kabul bank, kills...

Aug 29, 2017

Taliban claim responsibility for suicide bombing in central Kabul near banks, US Embassy, that...

Civilians hurt by US airstrike responding to...

Sep 27, 2017

The Taliban unleashed a barrage of rockets at the Kabul international airport that the insurgents...

People also read these

Third time's charm on visas for Afghan girls...

Jul 13, 2017

Third time's the charm for war-torn Afghanistan's all girls team who have been applying for U.S....

Taliban suicide car bombing in Kabul kills 24...

Jul 24, 2017

Taliban suicide car bombing targets minibus with Afghan government employees, killing 24

On Afghanistan's front lines, US commanders await...

Aug 22, 2017

Deep in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, where Afghan troops are on the front lines against...

At least 20 people killed in mosque attack in...

Aug 25, 2017

Officials say an attack on a mosque in the Afghan capital of Kabul has killed at least 20 people...

Taliban suicide bomber targets Kabul bank, kills...

Aug 29, 2017

Taliban claim responsibility for suicide bombing in central Kabul near banks, US Embassy, that...

Weather, 20 December
Houston Weather
+7

High: +11° Low: -2°

Humidity: 83%

Wind: NNE - 7 KPH

Canberra Weather
+27

High: +27° Low: +17°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: W - 20 KPH

Roissy-en-France Weather
+6

High: +6° Low: -5°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: ENE - 7 KPH

Florence Weather
+9

High: +9° Low: +6°

Humidity: 97%

Wind: ENE - 17 KPH

Parga Weather
+7

High: +16° Low: +4°

Humidity: 100%

Wind: SE - 25 KPH

About Us

Get all the up-to-date breaking news about politics, business, entertainment, sports, lifestyles, weather, traffic, and local news in a seamless digital environment only in Morning Dispatcher.

Contact us: sales@morningdispatche.com

Subscribe Now!

Quick Links

HomePress