Supermodel to take stand in war crimes trial
Published 05/08/2010 | 05:00
Judges rejected a last-minute protest from former Liberian ruler Charles Taylor, clearing the way for supermodel Naomi Campbell to testify at his war crimes trial today.
The reluctant Campbell has been subpoenaed to testify about a diamond Taylor allegedly gave her after a dinner party hosted by Nelson Mandela in South Africa in 1997.
Taylor's lawyer, Courtenay Griffiths, had argued that Campbell should not appear until prosecutors provide a summary of her likely testimony. But judges rejected that in yesterday's ruling, saying it was not reasonable to expect prosecutors to obtain a statement beforehand from Campbell, who is essentially a hostile witness.
Prosecutors say that if Taylor really gave Campbell the diamond, it would help show he received diamonds from Sierra Leone rebels in exchange for weapons during Sierra Leone's 1992-2002 civil war.
Prosecutors say that from his seat of power in Liberia, Taylor armed, trained and commanded Sierra Leone rebels who murdered and mutilated thousands of civilians across the border.
Taylor has said he is innocent of the 11 war crimes charges he faces, including murder, rape, sexual enslavement and recruiting child soldiers.
He has also denied involvement in the diamond trade, and specifically said he did not bring any diamonds to the celebrity-studded dinner he and Campbell attended in September 1997.
The story of the diamond surfaced in a statement to prosecutors by actress Mia Farrow.