Naomi Campbell's ex-agent lied to court: Taylor's lawyer

10th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

A lawyer for war crimes suspect Charles Taylor Tuesday branded Naomi Campbell's former agent a liar for saying the supermodel had received a gift of illegal diamonds from Liberia's ex-president.

"Your account is a complete pack of lies," defence lawyer Courtenay Griffiths told model agent Carole White, challenging her testimony before the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague.

"You've made it up to assist in your lawsuit (for breach of contract) against Ms Campbell. Bluntly, for you this is all about money."

On Monday, White, 60, told judges trying Taylor for war crimes that he had promised her protege a gift of diamonds at a charity dinner hosted by then South African president Nelson Mandela in Pretoria in September 1997.

She said she was present when Taylor and the British beauty "flirted" over dinner as the gift was promised, and for the delivery of about six diamonds by two men later that night.

Campbell, 40, conceded to the court last Thursday that two men brought a pouch containing two or three "dirty-looking stones" to her bedroom in a guesthouse that night.

But she insisted she did not know who had sent her the gift, though she "assumed" it was from Taylor. The model said White was not present.

Prosecutors are trying to link the gift to Taylor, whom they accuse of having taken a consignment of uncut diamonds to South Africa "to sell ... or exchange them for weapons" for Sierra Leone rebels.

White stuck to her version of events under cross-examination on Tuesday.

"Who was the person who made that gift of diamonds to Naomi Campbell?" prosecutor Brenda Hollis asked White.

"Charles Taylor," the agent responded.

She vehemently denied Griffiths's accusation that she was lying.

"This happened. I told people after the journey in '97, people I trusted, the story because it was quite funny at the time. It is not so funny now.

"It is totally the truth. It has nothing whatsoever to do with my business argument with Naomi Campbell. This is not about money. This is about a very serious matter and I am telling the truth."

US actress Mia Farrow, who was also at the September 1997 dinner, partly backed White's version of events when she told the court on Monday that Campbell had named Taylor as the man who sent her the gift.

"She (Campbell) said it came from Charles Taylor," Farrow testified.

The model said she donated the diamonds to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund the following day.

Taylor, 62, is on trial for his alleged role in the 1991-2001 Sierra Leone civil war that claimed some 120,000 lives.

He stands accused of receiving illegally mined "blood diamonds" for arming rebels who murdered, raped and maimed Sierra Leone civilians, amputating their limbs and carving initials on their bodies.

White completed her testimony on Tuesday morning.

Taylor's trial, the first of an African head of state before an international tribunal, is expected to conclude by year-end, with judgment in 2011.

© 2010 AFP

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