Actress, agent set to challenge Campbell diamonds testimony

8th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Supermodel Naomi Campbell's testimony at Charles Taylor's war crimes trial is likely to be challenged on Monday when a Hollywood film star and a modelling agent take the stand.

Both Mia Farrow and Carole White are liable to contradict Campbell when they take the stand at the "blood diamonds" trial of the former Liberian president at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague.

Court documents suggest that White will testify that Campbell knew in advance she would get diamonds from Taylor after a dinner in South Africa in 1997 -- and that she seemed disappointed with the "pebbles" she had received.

White recalled seeing two men at Campbell's room giving her "a scrubby piece of paper" containing about a half-dozen "small, greyish pebbles".

She will also testify that Campbell and Taylor were "mildly flirtatious" at the dinner -- an impression that Campbell denies -- and that she heard Taylor tell the 40-year-old supermodel that he was going to give her some diamonds.

White "heard Mr Taylor tell Ms Campbell that he was going to send her diamonds," according to notes of an interview that prosecutors conducted with White.

"It was arranged that he would send some men back with the gift."

According to White, the court documents added, Campbell "seemed excited about the diamonds and she kept talking about them".

Farrow, who also attended the dinner, has told prosecutors that Campbell had told her and other guests an "unforgettable story" the day after the event.

"She told us 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," says Farrow's statement.

Taylor, 62, is accused of receiving blood diamonds in return for arming rebels in Sierra Leone who murdered, raped and maimed civilians during a 1991-2001 civil war in the west African nation in which 120,000 died.

He denies the charges.

Prosecutors had subpoenaed Campbell in hopes of casting doubt on Taylor's credibility and to try to disprove his contention that he never possessed rough diamonds.

Campbell testified on Friday that two unknown men had delivered to her room "dirty-looking stones" after a dinner she attended in South Africa, hosted by then president Nelson Mandela, at which she was seated next to Taylor.

"I saw a few stones in there. Very small, dirty-looking stones ... maybe three, two or three," she told the court.

At breakfast the next morning, she added, she told White -- founder of Premier Model Management in London and her agent at the time -- and Farrow about the gift, both of whom assumed the stones were diamonds.

"One of the two said 'that is obviously Charles Taylor' and I said 'yes I guess it was'," she told the court, adding that she later gave the stones to a representative of a Mandela charity.

Jeremy Ratcliffe, then head of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, who Campbell said she gave the "dirty-looking stones" to, announced Friday that he had turned them over to police in South Africa for authentication.

"They are real diamonds, handed back to us now, and the investigation begins," said Musa Zondi, spokesman for the special investigations unit of the South African police on Saturday.

On whether Campbell would be questioned, Zondi said: "It would depend on the information we have and the information we still need. There is no cut and dried (that) this will happen or won't happen."

© 2010 AFP

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