U.N. war crimes prosecutors in The Hague on Thursday called for the British supermodel Naomi Campbell to be compelled to testify over claims that she was given “blood diamonds” by Liberia's former President Charles Taylor.
A request to subpoena Ms. Campbell, the actor Mia Farrow and Ms. Campbell's former agent Carole White was presented to the special court for Sierra Leone, which was set up in 2002 to try those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during that country's civil war. Much of the violence was blamed on Taylor, who was arrested while trying to escape in a car stuffed with cash in 2006 and extradited to stand trial in The Hague.
One of the charges is that he used diamonds seized from Sierra Leone's gem mines to enrich himself and fund his Revolutionary United Front rebels, responsible for mass killings and mutilations in the fighting that lasted from 1991 to 2001 .
The prosecution has asked to reopen its case after Ms. Farrow claimed that Ms. Campbell had told her that she had been given a rough diamond by Taylor in September 1997 while she was a guest of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. Ms. White has testified that she heard Taylor say he was going to give Ms. Campbell diamonds and was present when they were delivered.
Ms. Campbell has refused to comment, storming out of one interview when asked about the issue, knocking over a camera on her way out. She told the U.S. chatshow host Oprah Winfrey: “I don't want to get involved in this man's case — he has done some terrible things. I don't want to put my family in danger.” The court documents issued on Thursday state: “Ms Campbell, as the actual recipient of the accused's gift of diamonds, is clearly in a position to provide material evidence about this event.” The court documents also say repeated attempts to interview the model had been unsuccessful and that she had publicly stated she did not want to be involved.
“Thus, judicial intervention in the form of a subpoena is necessary,” the prosecution argues.
Ms. Farrow told prosecutors that Ms. Campbell told her that “she had been awakened in the night by knocking at her door. She opened the door to find two or three men — I do not recall how many — who presented her with a large diamond which they said was from Charles Taylor.” Taylor has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He has dismissed the Campbell diamonds story as “total nonsense”. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010