By Safvan Allahverdi
A Judge in New York on Monday postponed jury selection in the trial of an Turkish businessman who has been detained on charges of violating sanctions against Iran.
The decision came after judge Richard Berman held a closed session with attorneys in the case against Riza Sarraf, who was not present.
Jury selection has been rescheduled to Nov. 27 and the trial will begin after that process is completed, according to court documents.
Sarraf was previously the subject of an investigation in Turkey in 2013 where he was suspected of conducting illegal gold sales to Iran via Turkey, leading to his arrest. The case was dismissed in 2014.
In addition, the deputy general manager of Turkey’s Halkbank, who also was arrested earlier this year in the U.S. on similar sanctions violations charges, appeared at the trial Monday.
"Order as to Mehmet Hakan Atilla. The trial and jury selection are adjourned for one week and will commence on Monday, November 27, 2017,” according to court records that said, "once the jury is selected we will immediately proceed to openings and witness testimony.”
Istanbul’s Public Prosecutor's Office on Saturday accused former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara and current post holder, Joon H. Kim, who is in charge of the case, of using information and documents from previous investigations in Turkey in the case against Sarraf.
The lawyers obtained voice recordings and other false documents from unknown persons instead of obtaining the materials through official channels -- a move contrary to international law -- to build the cases against Sarraf and Atilla, Istanbul Prosecutor's Office said.
The Istanbul office also cited an affidavit last month by Cathy Fleming, a lawyer for Atilla, that said the documents and evidence presented to in the case “are stolen, fraudulent and unqualified in nature”.