War crimes prosecutors cleared to call Naomi Campbell

2010-06-30 16:00

A war crimes court ruled today that prosecutors can call supermodel Naomi

Campbell to testify over a “blood diamond” she allegedly received from Liberian

ex-president Charles Taylor.


Actress Mia Farrow can also be called to the stand over claims that

Campbell was given a rough diamond by Taylor after a dinner hosted by former

South African president Nelson Mandela in September 1997.


“The trial chamber hereby grants the motion” filed by prosecutors

in May seeking permission to subpoena Campbell and Farrow, said the decision by

the Special Court for Sierra Leone, based in The Hague.


Campbell has refused to be give evidence on the matter but Farrow

and the model’s former agent Carole White were both willing to do so, the

prosecution request to the court said.


The prosecution alleges the rough diamond was among those Taylor

had obtained from Sierra Leone rebels and took to South Africa “to sell or

exchange for weapons”.


Taylor (62) has been 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.


He is accused of having fuelled war there 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.


Prosecutors said they had not known about the Campbell diamond,

which they consider “material” to the case, until June 2009 – by which time they

had already closed their case, now in the phase of hearing defence

witnesses.


Taylor has opposed the bid to reopen the prosecution case to call

the women, saying in court papers the evidence they sought was “more appropriate

for a screenplay than a courtroom hearing”.


But a panel of four judges, having studied a declaration by Farrow

and notes of an interview with White, found that the proposed new evidence was

“highly probative”.


“The trial chamber is of the view that the best procedure is to

allow the prosecution to reopen its case so that the additional prosecution

witnesses can be interposed between defence witnesses,” said the ruling.

 

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