Supermodel Campbell must testify in Taylor trial – prosecutors

2010-05-21 10:34

Supermodel Naomi Campbell should be forced to provide incriminating

evidence about an alleged “blood diamond” gift she received from former Liberian

leader Charles Taylor, who faces war crime charges in The Hague, officials have said.

Prosecutors at the Special Court for Sierra Leone were told about

the gift from actress Mia Farrow, who was also present at a reception at Nelson

Mandela’s South African home in 1997 attended by Campbell and Taylor.

Farrow told prosecutors that Campbell had told her about being

woken up in the middle of the night by “two or three men” and being given a

“large” rough diamond on behalf the former president.

Campbell has not denied receiving the diamond, but told the Oprah

Winfrey Show on May 3 that she did not wish to be involved in the case.

“He has done some terrible things and I don’t want to put my family

in danger,” according to an ABC television transcript quoted in a subpoena

request dated May 20.

Prosecutors say that evidence about the gift is “central” to their

case since “it supports the prosecution allegations that the accused used rough

diamonds for arms purchases for Sierra Leone.”

Taylor faces 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity

for allegedly backing rebels responsible for widespread atrocities during a

civil war in Liberia’s neighbouring country.

Prosecutors in The Hague say the notoriously temperamental

supermodel should be forced to provide the evidence in court since their

“repeated efforts to interview Ms Campbell about this event have been unsuccessful.”

A number of phone messages and emails sent to her solicitor went

unanswered, prosecutors said.

“Ms Campbell’s consistent refusals to speak to the Prosecution

voluntarily and her statements that she does not want to be involved in the case

justify the Trial Chamber’s issuance of a subpoena,” prosecutors have told

judges.

The judges must now decide whether to grant the request for a

subpoena – a writ issued by a court authority to compel the attendance of a

witness at a judicial proceeding.

Were Campbell to defy such a writ, she could faces charges of

contempt of court.

 

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