WASHINGTON -- Former President George Bush has been called to testify in the trial of a banker accused of making $5.5 billion of unauthorized loans to Iraq through an Italian bank, a lawyer said.
Mr. Bush has been asked to submit documents and to appear in the trial of Christopher Drogoul, former director of the Atlanta branch of the Italian government's Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, said Robert Simels, the defense attorney.
Trial Set for Sept. 8
The case stirred a great deal of controversy last year, tainting Mr. Bush's reelection campaign because of its revelations about U.S. Policy toward Iraq.
Mr. Drogoul pleaded guilty to some of the charges but withdrew the plea last summer. The federal judge in Atlanta, who said he suspected a government cover-up in the case, accepted his plea withdrawal, and the government ordered a new trial. The trial is scheduled for Sept. 8.
By subpoenaing Mr. Bush, the defense hopes to prove that Mr. Drogoul was a tool in a far larger U.S., Italian, British, and German government scheme to help Iraqi President Saddam Hussein defeat Iran during the bitter eight-year war between the two Persian Gulf neighbors.
Cover-up Efforts Claimed
Mr. Simels said that among the 37 documents he had subpoenaed were records of conversations that Mr. Bush held with Giulio Andreotti, who was Italy's prime minister at the time, and with Boyden Gray, then Mr. Bush's White House counsel.
Mr. Simels argues that these conversations will point to an active damage-control operation mounted by the White House and designed to cover up the administration's alleged role in the lending to iraq between 1985 and 1989.
Iraq used the loans to buy weapons and build up its nuclear weapons program.