Former Liberian President Charles Taylor made moves on Monday to prevent supermodel Naomi Campbell from testifying at his war crimes trial in the Hague. In April, ABC News attempted to interview Campbell about claims that Taylor gave her an alleged 3-carat blood diamond after a reception during the model’s 1997 visit to Nelson Mandela’s South African home. Campbell refused to answer any questions and then stormed out of the interview, slamming into a camera on the way. She later told Oprah that concerns over her own and her family’s safety were the reason she was remaining silent.
A few weeks ago, prosecutors filed a motion to have Campbell subpoenaed to testify regarding the alleged blood diamond — a move Taylor’s lawyers are calling a “publicity stunt.”
The AP reports:
But Taylor’s lawyers said the evidence was “tangential to the real issues” against Taylor and said prosecutors were trying to introduce it too late in the trial — 15 months after they closed their case.
“For the prosecution to present such inferential evidence at this advanced stage, as part of an obvious publicity stunt, would bring the administration of justice into serious disrepute,” Taylor’s British lawyer Courtenay Griffiths wrote to judges.
Mia Farrow, who was in attendance at that same reception, told the court in a written statement that Campbell specifically told her she’d been woken up by Taylor’s men and given a large diamond. Farrow previously told ABC News:
“You don’t forget when a girlfriend tells you she was given a huge diamond in the middle of the night . . . There’s no doubt in my mind. All I thought was, ‘Gosh, what an amazing life Naomi Campbell has.’ Probably lots of men are always giving her diamonds.”
Now, according to the Associated Press, a second witness has come forward to testify that she “heard Taylor say he was going to give Campbell diamonds and saw them being delivered.”
So why are prosecutors so desperate for Campbell’s testimony? According to the same article, Campbell’s story would provide “direct evidence of the accused’s possession of rough diamonds from a witness unrelated to the Liberian or Sierra Leone conflicts.”
Taylor is accused of using blood diamonds to purchase illegal weapons and to fund rebel fighters in Sierra Leon. He is on trial for “11 counts of murder, torture, rape, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers and terrorism” during Sierra Leone’s 11-year long civil war, in which over 500,000 people were killed or mutilated.
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