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War crimes court may demand Naomi Campbell evidence

Supermodel Naomi Campbell could be summoned to give evidence at the war crimes trial of former president of Liberia Charles Taylor, a court spokesman said.

Ms Campbell was allegedly given "rough diamonds" by Taylor shortly after he became president in 1997, during a function held in South Africa by Nelson Mandela.

She already refused to give evidence to prosecutors and denies being given such diamonds, a spokesman for the Special Court for Sierra Leone said.

Taylor faces an 11-count indictment for crimes against humanity in the trial, which was being held at the International Criminal Court in The Hague but moved to nearby Leidschendam last week.

A prosecution motion filed with the Special Court for Sierra Leone reads: "Ms Campbell's testimony is necessary as there is evidence that Ms Campbell was given rough diamonds by the accused (Taylor) in September 1997."

Court spokesman Solomon Moriba said if the motion was granted, she would be called to give evidence later this year.

The trial is currently hearing the defence case, and the prosecution seek to reopen their case once that is completed.

He said: "The motion requests to file a subpoena to Ms Campbell to appear before the court and give testimony over an alleged diamond she received from the alleged Mr Taylor in 1997 while attending a function held by Nelson Mandela."

He added that to date, she has "not agreed to co-operate with the prosecution on the matter".

Mr Moriba said that if the motion was passed, Ms Campbell would have to attend the trial, now being held in the courtroom of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

He added: "She would be expected to appear. If she refuses, the court would have to ask the UK Government for assistance."

It is alleged Taylor had a role in the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone by supporting rebels there. He is alleged to have been involved in the exportation of "blood diamonds", illegally mined by rebels in Sierra Leone, from Liberia and it is said that he used the proceeds from sale to buy weapons for the rebels. He denies all the charges against him.

The trial started on January 7, 2008 and a judgment may not take place until early next year.

© Press Association