July 2, 2010 – A war crimes court ordered supermodel Naomi Campbell on Thursday to testify in The Hague on July 29 about a “blood diamond” she was allegedly given by former Liberian president Charles Taylor in 1997.
Failure to do so could be punished by up to seven years in jail, the Special Court for Sierra Leone said in a subpoena made public.
Taylor has been on trial since 2008 for his alleged role in the civil war in Sierra Leone, accused of arming rebels in return for illegally mined diamonds.
Campbell will have to testify about claims by her former agent Carole White and actress Mia Farrow that she was given a diamond by Taylor after a celebrity dinner hosted by then South African president Nelson Mandela in September 1997.
The court “hereby orders you to appear as a witness in the case of Prosecutor v Charles Ghankay Taylor on Thursday July 29, 2010 at 9:00 am (0700 GMT) or to show good cause why you cannot comply with this subpoena,” states the document addressed to the British supermodel.
It warned that for contempt of court “you may be imprisoned for up to seven years or fined up to two million leones (about 409 euros) or both”.
The court agreed to issue a subpoena for the model, who has refused to talk to prosecutors about the alleged gift, saying “there is at least a good chance that the information provided by Ms Campbell would be of material assistance” in the case.
It has also issued a separate order allowing prosecutors to call Farrow and White to give testimony about the alleged late-night incident at Mandela’s home.
The women, both present at the dinner, were willing to testify, according to prosecution documents before the court.
White claimed to be present when the diamond was delivered, while Farrow “was told by Ms Campbell the next morning about the gift”.
“She told us … she had been awakened in the night by a 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,” Farrow said in a declaration in the possession of prosecutors.
The prosecution alleges the rough diamond was among those Taylor had obtained from Sierra Leone rebels and took to South Africa “to sell … or exchange them from weapons”.
It says Campbell’s evidence is direct evidence of Taylor’s possession of rough diamonds, a claim he has denied.
The court directed its registry to serve the subpoena on Campbell’s lawyer, Gideon Benaim, in London.
Taylor, 62, is charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming from the 1991-2001 civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone, where he is alleged to have armed Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in exchange for rough diamonds.
He has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, rape, conscripting child soldiers, enslavement and pillaging.
The RUF is blamed for the mutilation of thousands of civilians who had their hands and arms severed in one of the most brutal wars in modern history, which claimed some 120,000 lives.