Naomi Campbell Ordered To Give 'Blood Diamond' Testimony

Source: REUTERS. -

Supermodel Naomi Campbell has been ordered to give evidence over a "blood diamond" which prosecutors say former Liberian president Charles Taylor gave her, the Sierra Leone war crimes court said on Thursday.

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 the court said it was ordering the British model to appear at the court in The Hague at 0700 GMT on July 29 "or to show good cause" why she cannot comply with the subpoena.

A subpoena is a legal measure used to secure testimony for witnesses who are unwilling to give evidence.

Prosecutors accuse Taylor of taking diamonds to South Africa to buy weapons, which he denies. In January, they said that during a visit to South Africa in 1997 Taylor gave Campbell a large rough cut diamond after a dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela.

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.

Besides Campbell, prosecutors have also been granted the right to call testimony from modeling agent Carole White and U.S. actress Mia Farrow. Both women are prepared to give testimony voluntarily, prosecutors have said.

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.

According to the prosecutors Taylor armed and directed Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels to win control of neighboring Sierra Leone's diamond mines and destabilize its government to boost his regional influence during the country's 1991-2002 civil war.

A spokeswoman in London had earlier said Campbell had no comment to make on a court ruling this week paving the way for prosecutors to seek testimony from Campbell.

Defense lawyers had resisted the move to call the three witnesses, saying they were unlikely to appear and dismissing the evidence as "inconsistent, highly prejudicial and tangential."

They said the prosecution should have already investigated Taylor's trip to South Africa to determine whether he had been carrying diamonds and whether he received arms.

In Thursday's ruling, the court said failure to comply with the subpoena constitutes contempt of court and could lead to prosecution. Contempt of the Sierra Leone court carries a prison sentence of up to seven years, a fine or both.

The subpoena will be served on Campbell's London-based lawyer, Gideon Benaim, who has been instructed to receive the subpoena on behalf of Campbell and take any further necessary measures to have the subpoena served and executed, seeking the assistance of British government officials, where appropriate.