Report: Zarrab accused of rape by former cellmate

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Detained Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab (C) is surrounded by journalists as he arrives at a police center in Istanbul on December 17 ,2013. Turkish police detained more than 20 people including the sons of three cabinet ministers and several high-profile businessmen on December 17 in a probe into alleged bribery and corruption, local media reported. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which boasts of being pro-business, has pledged to root out corruption, a chronic problem in Turkey. AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, a key prosecution witness in the New York trial of a Turkish banker charged with violating US sanctions on Iran, has been sued by a former cellmate who alleges that Zarrab sexually assaulted him when the men shared a cell in a Manhattan jail, The New York Times reported.

A lawyer for Zarrab said on Thursday, a day after the suit was filed, that “[t]he allegations are outrageous and false from a source that is not remotely credible.”

The inmate, who has not been identified since he is the alleged victim of a sexual assault, in July pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist group and is awaiting sentencing in federal court.

According to the lawsuit, the abuse, including rape, occurred between November 2016 and March 2017 when the men were cellmates at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

Lawyer for the inmate Alexei Schacht said an inquiry by the jail had found the complaint to be unsubstantiated but said that only meant that officials had concluded that there was insufficient evidence to establish whether an assault had occurred, the NYT reported.

The inmate claims that he and Zarrab became friends in jail and that Zarrab offered to pay for a private lawyer for him and had money wired to his family in Africa and put in the man’s commissary account.

The inmate, in his early 60s, “felt helpless and unable to fight off the younger and stronger man,” according to the lawsuit, and that he was “too scared and embarrassed at that time to complain or to seek help.”

The suit alleges that the inmate was again attacked by Zarrab on March 8, at which time he began yelling, resulting in other inmates as well as himself complaining to the jail.

Schacht said the timing of the filing of the lawsuit – when Zarrab was testifying in the sanctions case — was coincidental and due to his having recently been retained by the inmate.

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