Court allows Charles Taylor’s prosecutors to summon model Naomi Campbell on “blood diamond”

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Naomi Campbell to testify at Charles Taylor trial

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Naomi Campbell and actress Mia Farrow will be summoned to testify at former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s war crimes trial, addressing allegations Taylor gave the supermodel an uncut diamond at a South African reception in 1997.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone granted a request Wednesday by prosecutors to call Campbell and Farrow, along with Carole White, who was Campbell’s agent at the time. It is not yet clear when their summons will be issued.

The prosecution hopes the women’s testimony will support its claims that Taylor dealt in “blood diamonds” when he supported rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone during the 1991-2002 civil war, which Taylor denies.

Taylor’s lawyers had argued that the request to call the celebrities was “an obvious publicity stunt,” and that it was too late to introduce new evidence, nearly 18 months after the prosecution closed its case.

But the judges accepted the prosecution’s argument that the evidence came to light only last June, and was pertinent enough to warrant their summons.

Prosecutors said Campbell has told them through a lawyer she does not want to get involved in the case, and that subsequently they had made “many unsuccessful attempts” to contact her.

In a written statement to the court, Farrow said Campbell told her that two or three men woke her up and “presented her with a large diamond which they said was from Charles Taylor.”

White has said she heard Taylor say he was going to give Campbell diamonds and saw them being delivered.

Prosecutors say Campbell’s testimony would provide “direct evidence of the accused’s possession of rough diamonds from a witness unrelated to the Liberian or Sierra Leone conflicts.”

Taylor, once one of West Africa’s most powerful men, is charged with 11 counts of murder, torture, rape, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers and terrorism in his role backing rebels in Sierra Leone’s 1991-2002 civil war.

An estimated 500,000 people were the victims of killings, systematic mutilation or other atrocities in that war, with some of the worst crimes committed by child soldiers who were drugged to desensitize them.

(This version CORRECTS spelling of Carole in 2nd paragraph and CORRECTS her identification to agent instead of actress.)

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