American wants Mugabe deposed for criminal case

CHICAGO - President Robert Mugabe should be deposed in a Chicago criminal case when he travels to the US this month for a United Nations meeting, lawyers for a South Side businessman say.

Gregory Turner, 72, wants a federal judge to force the controversial African leader to give videotaped evidence in his defence.

Turner — who’s due to stand trial on September 29 — is accused of illegally lobbying politicians, including US Reps Danny Davis and Bobby Rush, to lift sanctions against Mugabe and members of his ruling elite.

But Turner’s lawyers wrote in a court filing that he won’t have a fair trial unless US District Judge Elaine Bucklo orders Mugabe to give a deposition when he visits New York for a UN meeting later this month.

“If the government is truly interested in the pursuit of justice, it should welcome Mr. Mugabe’s videotaped testimony,” lawyer Michael Leonard wrote in the filing, describing Mugabe’s role as “central” to the case.

It isn’t the first time Turner’s lawyers have tried to bring a major political name into the case.

Last week, they cited a meeting then US Sen. Joseph Biden had in 2006 with Gideon Gono, the former head of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, as evidence that Turner did not believe he was breaking any laws.

Gono was a subject of the same 2001 US sanctions as Mugabe when the vice president and other politicians met with him, Turner’s lawyers say.

The attorneys want to present evidence at trial of an off-the-radar “welcome reception” in 2006 for  Gono.

Biden, who is now vice president, had co-sponsored the reception though he was one of the key sponsors of the sanctions legislation five years earlier, according to the defence filing.

Numerous members of the Congressional Black Caucus also attended the meeting in a reception room on the Senate side of the US Capitol to hear Gono speak about the effect of the sanctions on the people of Zimbabwe, the filing said.

No cameras were allowed at the function, but a “short video” was secretly made by one of the attendees, according to the filing.

“Biden is seen on video welcoming Gono … and shaking Gono’s hand,” the filing said.

News of the warm reception Gono received soon reached Turner, who at the time was in Zimbabwe working with a private organisation aimed at helping the people of the impoverished nation, according to the filing.

Turner’s attorney, James Tunick, said the evidence would show that Turner “did not in any way act with intent to violate the law.”

“Gregory Turner had been on the ground in Africa for humanitarian purposes for a long time,” Tunick said.

“When the signal came from the US government and legislators that there might be a change to their position on sanctions, he had people come to Zimbabwe and see the effects of the sanctions.”

But the bold attempt to force Mugabe to testify goes a step further.

Mugabe is not subject to the subpoena powers of the court unless and until he arrives in the US.

Previous attempts to detain him on foreign soil have not gone well.

British gay rights protestor Peter Tatchell was badly beaten by Mugabe’s bodyguards in Brussels in 2001 after he attempted to perform a “citizen’s arrest” on Mugabe.

The Zimbabwean embassy did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The US Attorney’s office declined to comment.

Charges filed last year alleged that Turner illegally negotiated a $3,4 million deal to lobby for Mugabe.

Together with co-defendant Prince Asiel Ben Israel, 73, he allegedly flouted US sanctions when he tried to enlist four Chicago lawmakers in a failed bid to open a “back channel” to President Barack Obama and have the sanctions overturned.

Ben Israel previously plead guilty and was sentenced last month to seven months in prison.

Comments (9)

Tsvangirai is a breath of fresh air when compared to the opportunistic Biti and his childish rhetoric. If Tsvangirai is willing to change the fundamental problem of this government chances are he can rebuild within a five year period. This government is enameled with ownership and went into the ill advised parastatal where corruption is rambart and embezzlement the norm. The funds from privatizing could be used to rebuild the government institutions and infrastructure. The government will always have their take in taxation. Mugabe will not give up power even in his own party because of the atrocities committed , yes they will come to light and there would be knatching of teeth. Also years of plunder by his ministers , former Governor of the Reserve Bank will surface and the people will take everything back.

Ranganayi Rudembowafa - 7 September 2014

Zviyiwana ngwarati kudya yakavata. Is he going to testify? So where is the shame to the West if you has been desperately trying to get legitimacy. In fact you use American currency, why not the Chinese?

George Kamande - 7 September 2014

Biti is a non-starter, it seems he is vulnerable to pressure from any small quarter. Why did he had to form his Party, he blames MT for the loss to ZPf elections that we all know were rigged and he was also part of the MDC by that time. If he was genuine he was supposed to resign before elections then we were going to take him seriously. He was part of the negotiations that brought about a constitution that is fraught with so many loopholes. To Mr Biti I say return to the people and apologize, meanwhile take your ARVs everyday.

Ngororombe - 8 September 2014

at least he is not dragged for ever by morgan. he knows when to say enough is enough. for some it takes forever for them to come out of compromised situations. he is brave enough to stand against failure.

zvirozviyedzwa - 8 September 2014

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 8 September 2014

Thank u Ngororombe.There are better people to talk about than the treacherous Biti. In fact the whole of the so called RENEWAL TEAM is full of shit.Please let's not waste time on RUBBISH.

Hapana Chokuyedza - 8 September 2014

One mans meat is another mans poison.Let Biti and his crew go ahead as much as when MDC started it got the blessings of all those who wanted it.We should grow into relevant political maturity which entails tolerance and freedom of choice

carson Macate - 8 September 2014


water 1 - 8 September 2014

Where is mBiti in the post above? Or are we just obsessed by musoro bhangu?

heaveneaveah - 8 September 2014

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