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Society | Human rights

Naomi Campbell must testify in Taylor case

Liberia's ex-President Charles Taylor

© UN/afrol News
afrol News, 2 July
- The war crimes court in Sierra Leone has ordered the high-profile British model Naomi Campbell to give evidence about a blood diamond given to her by the Liberia's notorious ex-President Charles Taylor.

A subpoena yesterday was issued for 40-year-old Ms Campbell to appear on 29 July in The Hague in the Netherlands, where the Special Court for Sierra Leone is sitting for the trial of ex-President Taylor on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Three judges of the war crimes court, in announcing the subpoena, said they were responding to a request from prosecutors for Ms Campbell to testify. If Ms Campbell fails to appear in the Hague, she risks being convicted to up to seven years in prison or euro 533,000 for contempt of court.

The prosecution wants to ask Ms Campbell about allegations that she was given a so-called blood diamond – a diamond that is mined in a war zone and then sold to finance the activities of an army, insurgency or warlord – by President Taylor while attending a private dinner at the home of the former South African president Nelson Mandela in 1997.

The alleged diamond gift was brought to the judges' attention by actress Mia Farrow, who had also been a guest at Mr Mandela's dinner. Ms Farrow told prosecutors Ms Campbell said she had been given "a huge diamond" by President Taylor. Mr Taylor in court however has said the story was "totally incorrect".

Mr Taylor has long been accused of using blood diamonds to fuel conflict in Sierra Leone while he served as president of neighbouring Liberia.

Mr Taylor has pleaded not guilty to 11 charges, which include pillage, slavery for forced marriage purposes, collective punishment and the recruitment and use of child soldiers. The charges relate to his alleged support for two brutal rebel groups in Sierra Leone - the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and the Revolutionary United Front.

The war crimes court was set up jointly by the Sierra Leonean government and the UN in 2002 and is headquartered in Freetown. It is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international law on Sierra Leonean territory since the end of November 1996.

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