GENEVA, SEPT. 14 -- Two businessmen in the U.S. arms-for-hostages scandal have lodged new appeals to stop the release of Swiss bank documents linked to the affair, legal sources said today.
The documents trace money passed through Geneva bank accounts by about 20 American, Iranian, Swiss and Saudi Arabian companies and citizens.
The release of the documents has been delayed repeatedly since last December as various people challenge the Swiss government's decision to cooperate with U.S. investigators.
The latest appeals, made to a Geneva criminal court today by Iranian businessman Manucher Ghorbanifar and Iranian-born businessman Albert Hakim, challenged the scope of Swiss legal cooperation, the sources said.
The legal brief said the Swiss government had blindly extended judicial help to American authorities and raised other technical points, the sources added.
The men, cited as key figures in secret arms sales to the Iranian government by the Reagan administration in exchange for the release of U.S. hostages in Lebanon, lost an appeal in July to Switzerland's highest court. That appeal sought to block any cooperation with the Americans.
Vladimir Stemberger, the Geneva judge charged with collecting the bank documents for the government, said he thought the local court would decide the case in a few days.
"The basic decision to cooperate with American authorities was backed by the Federal Tribunal in July," he said.
He said he thought the latest appeal, intended to limit the number of documents to be handed over, would be rejected by the local court.
Stemberger has received all the documents requested by the Americans. He said these included several thousand pages of bank records at a Geneva branch of Credit Suisse and the Compagnie de Services Fiduciaires S.A.