In the sanctions trial against Iran: a witness of the revealed star and a sleepy jury –

In the sanctions trial against Iran: a witness of the revealed star and a sleepy jury


Had he changed sides to cooperate with the government of the United States?

On Tuesday, Mr. Zarrab gave a surprising answer, appearing as the star witness of the government in the trial of Mr. Attila, the Turkish banker who had been accused with him.

Through three days of often compelling testimonies, Mr. Zarrab has appeared composed, has maintained a respectful tone and has rarely seemed uncomfortable answering questions. His testimony about how he had carried out the plan, working with bankers and a government minister, sent political tremors to Turkey

. Indications emerged about why the president of Turkey was so interested.

Since the arrest of Mr. Zarrab in March 2016 The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has repeatedly condemned the accusation and apparently has tried everything to dismiss the case.

Mr. Erdogan said there were "malicious" intentions behind the accusation, and he raised the case with US officials, including Mr. Trump, in a phone call in September.

"We have to seek justice, because he is our citizen". Mr. Erdogan said of Mr. Zarrab more than a year ago.

But in his testimony last week, Mr. Zarrab almost implicated Mr. Erdogan in the alleged plan. He testified that Zafer Caglayan, at that time Minister of Economy, had told him in 2012 that Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time, had personally ordered that two Turkish banks be allowed to participate in the anti-doping activity.

sir. Zarrab also said that he had paid Mr. Caglayan tens of millions of dollars in bribes. Mr. Caglayan is one of the seven accused who remain at large.

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Turkey was in turmoil.

Turkey has been trapped by the trial, with its cast of rich and powerful characters and their huge sums: billions of dollars in Iranian oil money and bribes in tens of millions of dollars, allegedly paid to the former minister of economy.

The Turkish government tried to avoid coverage of negative news, denouncing the trial in the days before it began as a plot against the government and against Turkey itself.

Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said the evidence had been fabricated by followers of cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused of fomenting the failed coup d'état against Erdogan last year, and that a 2013 Turkish police investigation into the matter had been dismissed for that reason. Mr. Gulen lives in a self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

In the increasingly authoritarian climate of Turkey – a state of emergency has been imposed for more than a year – newspapers and television channels have largely followed the line of government, describing Mr. Zarrab as a hostage and his decision to cooperate with United States prosecutors as forced.

Television chat programs discussed at length their appearance in the tan prison garb on the first day of the trial. Only one newspaper, the independent newspaper Cumhuriyet, dared to lead with the most important detail: Mr. Zarrab's statement that Mr. Erdogan had ordered that two banks be included in the plan.

But social networks were in turmoil with the case all week, and the Turks followed the live broadcasts of reporters and online news media covering the trial in English and Turkish.

The scale of the bribes Zarrab said he paid the former minister made bitter jokes.

"The bribe was 45 or 50 million euros," one user wrote on Twitter. "I would have to work 11,750 months, that's almost 1,000 years ago … 1,000,000!"

Burak Acerakis, who campaigns for the education of children with Down syndrome, wrote: "With only 2.6 percent of the bribe taken by Caglayan , 36,000 children with Down syndrome could have pre-educational therapy for five years. "

The judge said he would excuse a sleepy jury.

Not all the testimonies have been fascinating, or at least that seemed at least one of the 12 juries that heard the case. Late on Friday, after Judge Richard M. Berman had excused the jury over the weekend, he announced that he was going to fire a jury in the case.

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Your offense? Sleep.

"It was my observation," said the judge, "that one of the jurors in my direct line of sight has been sleeping almost the entire trial."

Judge Berman said the man "seemed very kind," and noted that during the jury selection, when he asked the man what he liked to do in his spare time, the answer was: "Sleep."

"That, perhaps, should have told us," Judge Berman pointed out.

He said he would notify the jury that he had been excused. Several alternative juries have been selected, and one will go to the regular panel.

Judge Berman made it clear that he believed that the issue of remaining alert through testimony was important.

"I do not believe that a jury can perform its duties, he or she, unless they pay attention to what is happening in court," he said, adding: "Today was the icing on the cake."

The jury had been "really sensible". Asleep, "Judge Berman added," not just snoozing. "

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