Naomi Campbell diamond testimony sought in war crimes trial

20/05/2010 - 19:01

By Aaron Gray-Block

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Prosecutors at the special court for Sierra Leone want to hear testimony from model Naomi Campbell about a so-called 'blood diamond' at the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

The prosecution filed a motion with the court on Thursday seeking to hear testimony from the British supermodel but the court needs to rule on whether to subpoena her, a court spokesman said.

On trial in The Hague, Taylor denies all 11 charges of instigating murder, rape, mutilation, sexual slavery and conscription of child soldiers during wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone in which more than 250,000 people were killed.

Prosecutors say Taylor armed and directed Revolutionary United Front rebels to win control of neighbouring Sierra Leone's diamond mines during the country's 1991-2002 civil war.

In January, prosecutors alleged Taylor gave Campbell a large rough cut diamond during a 1997 trip to South Africa following a dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela, accusing him of taking the diamonds to South Africa to buy weapons.

Taylor has denied this.

On Thursday, the prosecution said Campbell is in a position to provide "material evidence" to rebut Taylor's claims that he never possessed rough diamonds.

The prosecution said it has made repeated, but unsuccessful requests to interview Campbell about the event, adding that the British supermodel was "concerned for her safety" and that judicial intervention was now necessary to obtain her testimony.

The spokesman for the court could not say when judges would rule on whether to order Campbell to testify.

The prosecution is also seeking testimony from modelling agent Carole White and actress Mia Farrow. They say White heard Taylor say he was going to give Campbell some diamonds and was there when Campbell received them. Farrow attended the reception where Campbell met Taylor and was told by Campbell about the gift the next morning, the prosecution says.

(Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block; Editing by Charles Dick)

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