Home » Judicial » Mugabe Fails to Testify for U.S Sanctions Fixer

A CHICAGO man accused of illegally lobbying US officials on behalf of President Robert Mugabe who would pay him US$3.4 million was due to go on trial beginning Monday without a deposition from the Zimbabwean leader considered “absolutely central” to his defence.

C. Gregory Turner, 71, faces trial on charges he tried to persuade US government officials — including an Illinois state senator and two US representatives from Chicago — to push for the lifting of sanctions imposed in 2003 on Mugabe and other top Zimbabwe government officials.

Turner’s co-defendant Prince Asiel Ben Israel, 72, who is a well-known Chicago activist and restaurateur, pleaded guilty in April and was recently sentenced to seven months in prison.

Attorneys for Turner told a U.S. District Judge that behind-the-scenes negotiations with Mugabe representatives had successfully concluded with the Zimbabwean gman agreeing to give a deposition for Turner when he visited New York for the recent U.N. summit.

The deposition, the attorneys said, was necessary because Mugabe “is absolutely central” to the allegations against Turner.

“Mr. Turner specifically acted for and at the direction of Mr. Mugabe,” the lawyers said.

“… If the government is truly interested in the pursuit of justice, it should welcome Mr. Mugabe’s videotaped testimony.”

But the lawyers revealed Friday that they had tried and failed to have Mugabe deposed in Turner’s defence during a meeting in New York.

The Zimbabwean leader has since returned home.

Meanwhile, the court will however, let Turner’s lawyers play a video for jurors showing then-U.S. Senator Joseph Biden shaking hands with former RBZ governor Gideon Gono at a clandestine 2006 meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus.

Turner’s lawyers contend their client thought the meeting gave him tacit approval from the U.S. government to resume lobbying efforts.

Charges brought by federal prosecutors in Chicago allege Turner and Prince Asiel Ben Israel reached a consulting deal with the Zimbabwe officials to be paid $3.4 million for their efforts.

Prosecutors allege the two told Harare officials in November 2008 that they knew many politicians with close ties to then-President-elect Barack Obama.

Ben Israel and Turner were successful in arranging for the state senator and several other lawmakers to meet with Mugabe and other top Zimbabwe officials during several trips to the US in 2008 and 2009, according to the charges.

The two U.S. representatives participated in numerous meetings about the lobbying effort and also sponsored a failed 2010 House resolution to end the sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Source : New Zimbabwe