Prosecutors trying former Liberian president Charles Taylor for war crimes at a U.N.-backed court asked judges Thursday to subpoena supermodel Naomi Campbell to testify about being given uncut diamonds by Taylor.
Special Court for Sierra Leone Prosecutor Brenda Hollis filed a motion saying Taylor allegedly gave Campbell diamonds at a reception in South Africa in September 1997. Taylor denies prosecutors’ allegations that he provided arms and ammunition to brutal rebels during Sierra Leone’s civil war in exchange for so-called blood diamonds.
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,” Hollis said in the motion.
She adds that Taylor “denied ever having possessed rough diamonds and the evidence clearly contradicts his testimony on this central issue.”
The motion said Campbell told prosecutors through her lawyer that she was “concerned for her safety” and “did not want to involve herself in the case.”
Campbell’s publicist in London, Debora Cunha, had no immediate comment.
The prosecution also wants actress Mia Farrow to testify about the alleged gift. In a written statement to the court, Farrow said she was at the same reception in South Africa and 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.”
Taylor is expected to wrap up his defense case this summer and prosecutors have asked judges for permission to reopen their case with testimony from Campbell, Farrow and another witness, identified as Carole White, who says she heard Taylor say he was going to give Campbell diamonds and saw them being delivered.
It is unclear when the judges will rule on the motion to hear the new evidence.
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.
Source: The Associated Press.