UN court turns rejects bid to delay Naomi Campbell testimony

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A UN court rejected Wednesday a bid to delay testimony from supermodel Naomi Campbell about a "blood diamond" allegedly given to her by war crimes-accused Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor.

Campbell is expected to give testimony Thursday to the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, where Taylor is on trial, about the alleged late-night gift.

Taylor's defence team had asked the court to delay her evidence until it had been given a document setting out her anticipated statement. The prosecution itself has, however, not been able to obtain the statement.

"Trial Chamber II ... hereby dismisses the motion," the court said in an order. "The prosecution is neither able nor obliged to disclose documents that are not in its possession," it said.

Taylor, 62, has been on trial in The Hague since 2008 for his alleged role in the 1991-2001 civil war in Sierra Leone. He is accused of arming rebels there in return for illegally mined diamonds.

He has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Campbell is due to testify about claims by her former agent Carole White and actress Mia Farrow that she was given a diamond by Taylor after a dinner hosted by then South African president Nelson Mandela in September 1997.

The diamond was allegedly among a batch that Taylor took to South Africa "to sell ... or exchange them for weapons".

Prosecutors claim Campbell's evidence will prove that Taylor did possess rough diamonds, in spite of his denials.

© 2010 AFP

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