Friday January 5, 2018
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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party during a meeting at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey July 25, 2017. — Reuters picTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party during a meeting at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey July 25, 2017. — Reuters picISTANBUL, Jan 5 — Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today slammed the conviction in the US of a top Turkish banker in a trial on Iran sanctions busting, saying it was part of a “chain” of plots against his nation.

“What we are seeing in America is a chain of serious plots,” Erdogan told reporters at Istanbul airport after the conviction of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, deputy chief executive of Turkish lender Halkbank. 

“If this is the US understanding of justice then the world is doomed. There can be no such understanding of justice.”

The trial, which rested on the testimony of Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, a suspect turned prosecution witness, implicated former Turkish ministers and even Erdogan in the Iran sanctions busting scheme.

But Erdogan lambasted the case as being “full of contradictions”.

He also took aim at the United States for hosting the Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey accuses of being behind the failed 2016 coup and also of influencing prosecutors in the Atilla case.

“Those who are attempting a coup against us in my country... live like pashas in 400 acres of land,” Erdogan said in apparent reference to Gulen’s leafy estate.

The United States has so far resisted pressure from Ankara to handover Gulen for trial. Gulen denies any involvement in the failed coup bid.

Erdogan indicated that consequently bilateral agreements between Ankara and Washington were losing their value.

“Well then what are the international and bilateral legal agreements doing? They are becoming obsolete. I am saddened to say this but after this, the process will work like that,” said Erdogan.

Analysts say that the court verdict has added yet another strain to Turkish-US relations and buried any hope of a reset in ties under President Donald Trump. — AFP

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