US businessman convicted of lobbying for Mugabe

Gregory Turner tried to use US lawmakers to lobby for the lifting of US sanctions.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Picture: AFP.

HARARE, Zimbabwe - A US court has convicted an American businessman of lobbying on behalf of President Robert Mugabe and his allies and he could face up to 20 years in jail.

Gregory Turner tried to use US lawmakers to lobby for the lifting of US sanctions first imposed on Mugabe's government in 2003 over alleged democratic and human rights abuses.

The 72-year-old Turner was convicted on conspiracy charges for illegally lobbying Chicago politicians to press for sanctions to be lifted.

US prosecutors say he and a business associate negotiated a contract worth over three million US dollars with President Robert Mugabe's government in 2008.

During the two-week-long trial, which ended on Friday, Turner's lawyer told a court in Chicago that his client hadn't been motivated by money to support Mugabe's government, but rather by his deep love of Africa.

Emails between Turner, Zimbabwe government officials and US politicians were used as evidence.

Newspaper reports from Chicago say Turner could face up to 20 years in jail.