U.S. District Judge Frank A. Kaufman today chastised attorneys who handled the arms smuggling trial last month of Iranian national Kazem Zamani, calling it "an abomination . . . in terms of wasted time."
The two-week trial ended in a mistrial Sept. 17 when jurors, after deliberating for five days, declared they were unable to reach a verdict on whether Zamani conspired to smuggle U.S. military equipment to Iran. A new trial is scheduled for Oct. 21.
Kaufman's comments came during a hearing in which defense attorney Domenic R. Iamele unsuccessfully sought to have his client released on bail. Zamani, 42, of Gaithersburg, has been in federal custody at Baltimore City Jail since his arrest in June.
"The trial we just had was an abomination . . . in terms of wasted time," an angry Kaufman told Iamele and prosecutor Susan M. Ringler. The defense, he said, raised legal "red herrings" that slowed the trial, and "the government overtried this case and overcomplicated this case to a fare-thee-well."
Zamani, an import-export entrepreneur and real estate manager, is charged with conspiring to smuggle $15 million in radar components, plus spare parts for worn-out U.S. tanks, jet fighters and helicopters being used by Iran in its war with Iraq.
During the first trial, the defense acknowledged that Zamani had tried to sell the equipment, but maintained that he had not been aware that such sales violate the U.S. Arms Export Control Act. In addition, Iamele argued that Zamani was entrapped by federal agents.
Today, when refusing to allow bail for Zamani, Kaufman said, "He has lots of motives and reasons for escaping and the ability to do so." Zamani faces a possible five-year sentence and deportation from the United States if he is convicted.