/ 1 July 2010

Court allows Campbell testimony in Charles Taylor trial

British supermodel Naomi Campbell can be called to give evidence over a “blood diamond” prosecutors say she was given by former Liberian president Charles Taylor, the Sierra Leone war-crimes court has ruled.

Prosecutors at the Special Court for Sierra Leone sought in May to call Campbell, who has so far refused to testify, saying she can provide “material evidence” to rebut Taylor’s claims that he never possessed rough diamonds.

In a ruling on Tuesday, the court allowed the prosecution to present testimony from Campbell, modelling agent Carole White and US actress Mia Farrow, saying this should be done as soon as possible before the close of the defence’s case.

In January, prosecutors said that during a visit to South Africa in 1997, Taylor gave Campbell a large rough-cut diamond following a dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela.

Prosecutors say White heard Taylor say he was going to give Campbell some diamonds and was there when Campbell received them, while Farrow attended the reception where Campbell met Taylor and was told by Campbell about the gift the next morning.

Prosecutors accuse Taylor of taking diamonds to South Africa to buy weapons. Taylor has denied the allegations relating to the diamonds.

On trial in The Hague, Taylor also 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 (RUF) rebels to win control of neighbouring Sierra Leone’s diamond mines and destabilise its government to boost his regional influence during the country’s 1991 to 2002 civil war. — Reuters