Campbell’s blood diamond testimony `crucial` in Taylor’s trial
London: Naomi Campbell’s testimony can prove crucial in the trial of Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, who is said to have gifted the British supermodel a rough-cut diamond after a 1997 dinner, say prosecutors.
Taylor is currently on trial in The Hague on charges of funding years of atrocities in neighbouring Sierra Leone in return for "blood diamonds".
Thirteen years ago Nelson Mandela invited Campbell to South Africa for the charity inauguration of the Blue Train, South Africa’s answer to the Orient Express. Following the celebratory train journey she and others guests gathered for dinner in his home.
The conversation at dinner turned to diamonds, say documents presented to the court in The Hague. Campbell’s former agent Carole White, who was present at the dinner, has since told the court in a written statement that she "heard Mr Taylor say he was going to give Ms Campbell diamonds".
"It came up over dinner. I was there. I heard it. Charles Taylor was there and Naomi was seated next to him," The Telegraph quoted White, as saying.
After the dinner, once everyone was ready to go to bed, Taylor’s men carried a present to Campbell’s room.
White said: "I was dealing with everything - how was she going to get them, because Taylor didn’t have them in his possession?
"I was asked by Charles Taylor and Naomi and his minister of defence to organise letting his people, who were going to bring the diamonds from Johannesburg to Cape Town, into the guest compound where we were staying.
"The diamonds came that night. Everyone was asleep."
Actress Mia Farrow, who was also among the high-profile guests, corroborates White’s version of events.
In a written statement she said: "The next morning when the other guests, my children and I met for breakfast, Naomi Campbell was there and had an unforgettable story.
"She told us the (sic) she had been awakened in the night by 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."
Campbell has repeatedly refused to discuss the matter but her testimony is vital to Taylor’s case, according to chief prosecutor Brenda Hollis.
Hollis said: "Her anticipated evidence supports the prosecution allegations that the accused used rough diamonds for personal enrichment and arms purchases for Sierra Leone
"Furthermore, her anticipated evidence rebuts the accused``s testimony that he never possessed rough diamonds."