The defense team of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an ex-executive of Turkey's state-owned Halkbank, docketed on Wednesday its mistrial motion in a highly politicized the U.S. vs. Atilla case regarding the now-lifted U.S. sanctions against Iran.
In the motion, the defense criticized the U.S. government's "continuous elicitation of inadmissible, confusing and overly prejudicial evidence."
"Defendant Atilla was not charged with any crime in Turkey. There was no evidence that he had either paid or received a bribe. He was not involved in many of the activities investigated or described in Court," the motion added.
Slamming Gülenist Hüseyin Korkmaz's controversial statements in court, the motion also said that Korkmaz has provided "testimonial opinions, conclusion, speculation and recitations derived solely and directly from the overwhelming number of hearsay statements and hearsay documents."
Korkmaz has been an important name in the trial and has stood out with his contradictory statements, namely for completely denying while he was in Turkey that "he had anything to do with" the December 17-25 judicial coup attempt perpetrated by Gülenist terror group (FETÖ) to overthrow Turkey's democratically elected government, but later confessing after coming to the U.S. that he was actually the investigator of the case with eight officers working under his command.
The admission of Korkmaz's testimony violates the "Confrontation Clause of the United States and defies established evidence rules and case law interpreting these rules," Atilla's team said.
"The defendant has been prejudiced to such a degree that the fundamental fairness of the trial has been irreparably undermined," they said, calling for a mistrial as "the only appropriate remedy."
Korkmaz is testifying in Manhattan federal court for U.S. prosecutors in the trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at the majority state-owned Halkbank, who is accused of taking part in a scheme with gold trader Reza Zarrab to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions.
Zarrab, a Turkish and Iranian dual national, has pleaded guilty and testified against Atilla, saying he used fraudulent food and gold transactions to launder money for Iran with the help of Atilla and others. Meanwhile Atilla has pleaded not guilty.
U.S. prosecutors have charged a total of nine people in the case. Only Zarrab, 34, and Atilla, 47, have been arrested by U.S. authorities.
Korkmaz testified on Monday that he began investigating Zarrab in 2012 for smuggling gold and money laundering. He told the jury that he never saw evidence that Atilla had taken bribes. He testified that soon after the searches, he was reassigned to another unit. He told the jury that he decided to leave Turkey in 2016 because another prosecutor had requested an order for his arrest and he did not feel safe.
Direct links between the judge overseeing the case, Richard Berman and FETÖ have also cast doubt on the trial. Turkish officials have underlined that the case is politically motivated against Turkey.