Lawyers for a Chicago man charged with illegally lobbying on behalf of the oppressive regime of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe are asking a federal judge for permission to take a videotaped deposition of Mugabe when he’s in New York for a United Nations conference this month.
C. Gregory Turner, 71, faces trial on charges he tried to persuade U.S. government officials — including an Illinois state senator and two U.S. representatives from Chicago — to push for the lifting of sanctions imposed in 2003 on Mugabe and other top Zimbabwe government officials.
In a filing Thursday, Turner’s attorney, Michael Leonard, asked U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo for permission to take a sworn deposition of Mugabe when he is in New York for a U.N. summit Sept. 23-24.
The deposition is necessary because Mugabe is “absolutely central” to the allegations against Turner, the filing said. But as a citizen of Zimbabwe, Mugabe is not subject to the subpoena powers of the court.
“One of the primary bases for the government’s prosecution of Mr. Turner in this case is its allegation that Mr. Turner specifically acted for and at the direction of Mr. Mugabe,” the filing said. “… If the government is truly interested in the pursuit of justice, it should welcome Mr. Mugabe’s videotaped testimony.”
The charges brought by federal prosecutors in Chicago allege Turner and co-defendant Prince Asiel Ben Israel had reached a consulting deal with the Zimbabwe officials to be paid $3.4 million for their efforts. Prosecutors allege the two told Zimbabwe officials in November 2008 that they knew many politicians with close ties to President-elect Barack Obama.
The charges do not name any of the politicians, but details included in the charges made it clear that among the lawmakers the two dealt with were then-state Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, as well as U.S. Reps. Danny Davis and Bobby Rush, both Chicago Democrats. None of the public officials was accused of wrongdoing.
Read more at chicagotribune.com