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Ill. Sen. Tries To Avoid Testifying

August 7, 1998 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun’s attorneys are trying to keep the Illinois Democrat from testifying in a travel agent’s lawsuit to collect a $250,000 debt from the senator’s former campaign manager and ex-fiance.

The senator contends the request for her to appear for a question-and-answer session is nothing more than an attempt to ``annoy and harass″ her and damage her re-election effort. She asked that travel agent Antoine Kacem’s attorney be punished for harassment and ordered to reimburse court costs.

``The time and expense required to prepare for and attend an oral deposition imposes an undue burden on Senator Moseley-Braun who has significant responsibilities,″ the lawyers said in a court brief.

A hearing planned today before D.C. Superior Court Judge Jose Lopez was to determine whether Moseley-Braun must comply with a subpoena in Kacem’s lawsuit against Kgosie Matthews.

In arguments filed with the court, Moseley-Braun’s attorneys say she already has said all she knows about Matthews’ whereabouts and finances in written answers provided to Kacem’s attorney in May. They also said the senator was too busy to spend more time on the matter.

In March, Lopez ordered Matthews to pay Kacem $249,969 for 60 plane tickets the Washington travel agent booked for Matthews between December 1993 and August 1995, plus interest and attorneys’ fees. But collecting the money has been a problem because it is not known where Matthews lives, though he is believed to be in South Africa.

Kacem attorney David Dickieson does not believe Moseley-Braun assertion that she does not know where Matthews is. Dickieson noted the two jointly owned a Chicago cooperative apartment until last year and that Moseley-Braun admitted Matthews still telephones her.

Dickieson called Moseley-Braun’s arguments frivolous and arrogant.

``The senator’s position demonstrates incredible hubris, as she essentially claims that the Court should value a couple hours of her time as being worth more than the continued survival of (Kacem’s) business,″ his response brief said.

The possibility of testifying about Matthews raises many of the questions that have dogged Moseley-Braun since her election and comes as the latest poll reflects a virtual dead heat with the GOP candidate, Illinois state Sen. Peter Fitzgerald.

He has hammered Moseley-Braun for her 1996 visit to Nigeria with Matthews, during which she met with the late dictator Sani Abacha despite widespread accusations that his regime was guilty of human rights abuses.

In addition, a Chicago television station recently reported that the IRS wanted to know if Moseley-Braun and Matthews illegally used $281,000 in funds from her 1992 campaign treasury to pay for designer clothes, jewelry, a stereo, cars and overseas vacations. The Justice Department twice refused 1995 IRS requests to take the case before a grand jury.