Aug 2, 2010
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Blood diamond testimony for Naomi Campbell may be delayed

Aug 2, 2010

© 2010 AFP - Lawyers for Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor want to delay supermodel Naomi Campbell's testimony, set for Thursday, about a "blood diamond" he allegedly gave her, court papers showed.

Naomi Campbell
Former Liberian president, Charles Taylor at trial in The Hague

"The defence respectfully requests the trial chamber to stay the hearing of the evidence of Naomi Campbell, scheduled for August 5, 2010, until such time as the prosecution would have obtained and disclosed to the defence a statement of Naomi Campbell's anticipated evidence," a defence motion said.

Claiming that prosecutors have committed a breach of duty by not providing such a statement, the motion, dated last Friday, said this violated Taylor's right to a fair trial.

Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell. Photo : Corbis
"The prosecution has chosen simply to speculate as to the content of her anticipated testimony, thus keeping the accused in the dark."

Taylor, 62, has been on trial in The Hague since 2008 for his alleged role in the 1991-2001 civil war in Sierra Leone, accused of arming rebels there in return for illegally mined diamonds.

He has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Campbell is due to testify on Thursday about claims by her former agent Carole White and actress Mia Farrow that she was given a diamond by Taylor after a celebrity dinner hosted by then South African president Nelson Mandela in September 1997.

The court on Monday gave the prosecution until noon (1000 GMT) on Tuesday to file a response to the motion for a delay, and the defence until noon on Wednesday, the day before the scheduled testimony, to reply to that.

A decision may only be forthcoming on the day of the scheduled hearing.

Prosecutors claim Campbell's evidence will prove that Taylor did possess rough diamonds, in spite of his denials.

The model has refused to talk to prosecutors about the alleged gift, prompting them to get a court subpoena for her testimony.

In the new motion, Taylor's defence said it had been informed by prosecutors that Campbell was "expected to testify" that men came to her lodgings after the dinner and presented her with a diamond gift they said was from the accused.

But having said they had no statement from the model, it was not clear how prosecutors knew what she would say.

"It would be the ultimate mockery to the principle of notice and a flagrant disregard of the accused's confrontational rights that a prosecution should be allowed to bring evidence against an accused person that it is itself not aware of," said the defence motion.

"The prosecution must know its case before it brings it to the accused."

THE HAGUE, Aug 2, 2010 (AFP)

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