Naomi Campbell’s blood diamond testimony crucial for justice

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New developments emerge as the date set by The Special Court for Sierra Leone’s decision to allow top model Naomi Campbell and actress Mia Farrow to testify against former Liberian President Charles Taylor draws closer.

Prosecutors filed a request on May 20 to summon Naomi Campbell to answer allegations over one or several diamonds she allegedly received from Taylor during a trip to South Africa in 1997, a time when the 62-year-old is accused of having exchanged diamonds for weapons.

And the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) has granted prosecution request to subpoena top model Naomi Campbell and actress Mia Farrow to appear at the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor on July 29.

Farrow and Campbell’s former agent Carole White have both claimed that the model received a diamond gift from Charles Taylor at a reception in South Africa hosted by then-President Nelson Mandela in 1997.

Taylor is accused of having exchanged diamonds for weapons and having met with convicted fraudster Nico Shefer during his trip; allegations that Taylor categorically denies.

Carole White

Prosecutors have also filed a request to summon Carole White, who was present at the reception. Farrow, who was also in attendance, has already agreed to write a statement for the court and claims to have no doubt that Campbell received the gift.

Proceeds from diamonds, widely known as ‘Blood diamonds’, were used to fund a bloody eleven year conflict in Sierra Leone.

“She said during the night some men had knocked at her door and she, half asleep, had opened the door and it was representatives of President Charles Taylor and that they had given her a huge diamond,” the Mia Farrow told ABC News.

Six diamonds

Miss Campbell, who earlier announced that she would not testify, rejects the version of events as covered by the media as false, saying that she did not want to “be involved in this man’s case” for safety reasons. The court asked her to ‘show good cause why’ she might not be able to testify. And only last month, Mr. Gideon Benaim, Ms Campbell’s lawyer, indicated to the SCSL that should they issue a subpoena to Naomi Campbell, “he would accept service of such a subpoena on behalf of his client.”

Nevertheless, her former agent insists that Campbell received not one, but several diamonds. ‘There were six small diamonds. They weren’t cut. They were in a bit of paper. I saw them. I had them in my hand,’ she is quoted as saying by the Mail.

And in February, she became enraged during an interview with ABC, when a journalist from the American television station said: “You received a diamond from Charles Taylor”. “I didn’t receive a diamond and I’m not going to speak about that, thank you”, Miss Campbell shot back, knocked-down a camera, and walked off.

Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund

According to reports, Miss White also indicated that Miss Campbell said she would give the diamonds to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, and she believes the supermodel did. However, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund denies ever receiving any diamonds from Miss Campbell.

President of Sierra Leone between 1997 and 2003, he has pleaded not guilty to a total of 11 charges, including an accusation that he exchanged diamonds for weapons to arm the United Revolutionary Front during a civil war that cost some 200,000 lives.

A testimony from Miss Campbell, if demonstrated as true, could be crucial in proving that Taylor was in possession of diamonds during his trip and provide justice for victims of the brutal civil war during which atrocities, including the indiscriminate severing of limbs, were committed.

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