May 23, 2010
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Blood diamond prosecutors seek to subpoena Naomi Campbell

May 23, 2010

THE HAGUE, May 20, 2010 (AFP) - War crimes prosecutors want to subpoena supermodel Naomi Campbell to testify over a so-called blood diamond she allegedly received from Liberia's ex-president Charles Taylor, said court papers filed Thursday 20 May.

Naomi Campbell
Photo : AFP

"Ms Campbell's testimony is necessary as there is evidence that Ms Campbell was given rough diamonds by the accused (Taylor) in September 1997," said a prosecution application filed with the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

It also sought permission to call actress Mia Farrow and Campbell's then agent Carole White to the stand -- both of whom it said were willing, unlike the supermodel, to testify about the gift allegedly made late at night after a dinner hosted by South African ex-president Nelson Mandela at home.

"Ms White heard Mr Taylor say he was going to give Ms Campbell diamonds and was present when the diamonds were delivered," states the prosecution document, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

"Ms Farrow was present at the reception where the accused met Ms Campbell and was told by Ms Campbell the next morning about the gift."

Taylor's war crimes trial heard claims in January that he had given Campbell a "large" diamond after the dinner.

The diamond was among those Taylor had obtained from Sierra Leone rebels and took to South Africa "to sell... or exchange them from weapons," prosecutor Brenda Hollis said in cross-examining Taylor at the time.

The warlord, on trial in The Hague since January 2008 on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming from the brutal 1991-2001 civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone, denied the claims.

But in Thursday 20 May's filing, the prosecution said it had a written declaration by Farrow in which she recounted an "unforgettable story" told by Campbell the next morning at breakfast.

"She told us... she had been awakened in the night by a knocking at her door. She opened the door to find two or three men -- I do not recall how many -- who presented her with a large diamond which they said was from Charles Taylor," Farrow said, according to the prosecution.

The prosecution said Campbell's evidence would help it prove that Taylor "used rough diamonds for personal enrichment and arms purchases for Sierra Leone."

It added that Campbell has refused to be interviewed out of safety concerns, and hence "judicial intervention in the form of a subpoena is necessary."

The prosecution further asked the court to allow it to reopen its case, which closed in February 2009, to present its witnesses.

Taylor, 62, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, rape, conscripting child soldiers, enslavement and pillaging.

He is accused of having fuelled war in Sierra Leone by arming the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in exchange for "blood diamonds" -- the name given to diamonds mined in rebel-held regions of Africa and sold to fund warfare.

The RUF is blamed for the mutilation of thousands of civilians who had their hands and arms severed in one of the most brutal wars in modern history, which claimed some 120,000 lives. by Mariette le Roux

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