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War crimes prosecutors aim to subpoena Naomi Campbell

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-05-20

War crimes prosecutors aim to subpoena supermodel Naomi Campbell to testify over a "blood diamond" that ex-Liberian president Charles Taylor, on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity at The Hague since 2008, allegedly gave her.

AFP - Prosecutors want to subpoena supermodel Naomi Campbell to testify over a so-called blood diamond she allegedly received from Liberia's ex-president Charles Taylor, said court papers filed Thursday.

"Ms Campbell's testimony is necessary as there is evidence that Ms Campbell was given rough diamonds by the accused (Taylor) in September 1997," said a prosecution application filed with the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

"Ms Campbell's anticipated evidence concerns 'a central issue' in the case: the accused's possession of rough diamonds," states the document, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

Taylor's war crimes trial heard claims in January that he had given Campbell a "large" diamond after a 1997 dinner hosted by South African ex-president Nelson Mandela.

The diamond was among those Taylor had obtained from Sierra Leone rebels and took to South Africa "to sell... or exchange them from weapons," prosecutor Brenda Hollis said in cross-examination of Taylor at the time.

Taylor, on trial on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming

from the brutal 1991-2001 civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone, denied the claims.

"Ms Campbell, as the actual recipient of the accused's gift of diamonds, is clearly in a position to provide material evidence about this event," stated Thursday's application.

"Her anticipated evidence supports the prosecution allegations that the accused used rough diamonds for personal enrichment and arms purchases for Sierra Leone."

Her evidence would rebut Taylor's assertion that he never possessed rough diamonds, says the prosecution motion, adding that Campbell has publicly stated that she did not wish to be involved in the case.

"Thus, judicial intervention in the form of a subpoena is necessary."

Taylor, 62, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, rape, conscripting child soldiers, enslavement and pillaging.

He has been on trial in The Hague since January 2008, accused of having fuelled war in Sierra Leone by arming the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in exchange for "blood diamonds" -- the name given to diamonds mined in rebel-held regions of Africa and sold to fund warfare.

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.

Date created : 2010-05-20

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