Warcrimes court delays Naomi Campbell's testimony to Aug 5

26th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

A war crimes court Monday delayed by a week to August 5 supermodel Naomi Campbell's testimony about a "blood diamond" she allegedly received from former Liberian president Charles Taylor in 1997.

Campbell was initially due to have testified on Thursday after the Special Court for Sierra Leone issued a subpoena for her to appear at the prosecution's request, but her lawyers had asked for a delay, the court said in The Hague.

"The judges of SCSL trial chamber II have this morning approved Ms Naomi Campbell's request to postpone her scheduled testimony in the trial of Charles Taylor to Thursday August 5, 2010, at 09:00 (0700 GMT)," a court statement said.

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 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 model had refused to talk to prosecutors about the alleged gift, prompting them to get a court subpoena for her testimony.

The judges 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.

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.

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.

Taylor has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, rape, conscripting child soldiers, enslavement and pillaging.

© 2010 AFP

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