US judge blasts conduct of prosecutors seeking to dismiss Sadr case

Ali sadr

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The US federal judge presiding over the trial of former Pilatus Bank chairman Ali Sadr blasted the prosecutors who decided to dismiss charges against him, warning of possible disciplinary action against them for botching the trial.

In a surprise move, prosecutors requested to drop the case against Sadr, who was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to defraud the US, conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, bank fraud and money laundering. At the time, the prosecution was calling for the immediate incarceration of Sadr, an Iranian national who holds a Kittitian passport.

In her ruling, Judge Alison Nathan from the Southern District of New York said that the request followed a number of developments which “raised serious concerns about the conduct of the government.” The prosecutors, she said, had failed to produce material that could have had an impact on the case.

Sadr himself, in his response to the government’s application, contended that it was not the proper mechanism for dismissing the case against him, insisting that the verdict should be set aside and the case dismissed with prejudice to clear his name.

Nathan ordered the government to respond to Sadr’s submissions by 18 June, insisting that their response should specifically answer a number of questions.

She said that all material improperly withheld from the case should be listed, with the government indicating for each item whether it felt that the withholding was intentional. It also asked for a precise explanation of how certain evidence was withheld, and when the defence was informed of this, if at all.

Nathan pointed out that the US Attorney’s Office had already flagged the need to train its prosecutors on disclosure issues, and questioned whether the prosecutors in the Sadr case had received such training. She also asked the office to explain the steps it would take in response to the handling of the case.

She also questioned whether the government believed that the court “possesses continuing supervisory authority to determine if sanctions are appropriate for any ethical violations and/or prosecutorial misconduct,” in a clear warning that she may yet act against the prosecutors.

In response to the dismissal of the case, the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation insisted that Sadr should be extradited to Malta for facilitating criminal activity at Pilatus bank.