Don't subpoena supermodel, urges Liberia's Taylor

31st May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor opposes a bid by prosecutors to subpoena supermodel Naomi Campbell to testify over a so-called blood diamond he is said to have given her, court papers said Monday.

Evidence the prosecution wanted to submit in this regard was "more appropriate for a screen-play than a courtroom hearing," his lawyer Courtenay Griffiths said in a document filed with the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

"Even if it were true that Mr Taylor gave Naomi Campbell a diamond as alleged by the prosecution, no reasonable trier of fact could make a link between this diamond exchange and the accused's support for the rebels in Sierra Leone as alleged in the indictment."

Earlier this month, prosecutors filed an application to call Campbell to testify on allegations that she was given a rough diamond by Taylor after a dinner hosted by former South African president Nelson Mandela in September 1997.

It also sought permission to call actress Mia Farrow and Campbell's then agent Carole White -- both of whom it said were willing, unlike the supermodel, to testify about the alleged late night gift.

The prosecution alleges the diamond was among those Taylor had obtained from Sierra Leone rebels and took to South Africa "to sell ... or exchange them from weapons".

Taylor, 62, has been on trial in The Hague since January 2008 on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming from the brutal 1991-2001 civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

He is accused of having fuelled war in Sierra Leone by arming the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in exchange for "blood diamonds" -- the name given to diamonds mined in rebel-held regions of Africa and sold to fund warfare.

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.

© 2010 AFP

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