Prosecutors seek Naomi Campbell testimony in Taylor trial

Thu May 20, 2010 2:09pm EDT
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By Aaron Gray-Block

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Prosecutors at the Special Court for Sierra Leone want to hear testimony from model Naomi Campbell about a so-called 'blood diamond' at the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

The prosecution filed a motion with the court on Thursday seeking to hear testimony from Campbell but the court still needs to rule on whether to subpoena her, a court spokesman said.

On trial in The Hague, Taylor denies all 11 charges of instigating murder, rape, mutilation, sexual slavery and conscription of child soldiers during wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone in which more than 250,000 people were killed.

Prosecutors say Taylor armed and directed Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels to win control of neighboring Sierra Leone's diamond mines and destabilize its government to boost his regional influence during the country's 1991-2002 civil war.

In January, prosecutors alleged Taylor gave Campbell a large rough cut diamond during a 1997 trip to South Africa following a dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela, accusing him of taking the diamonds to South Africa to buy weapons.

"That is totally, totally incorrect," Taylor had replied.

In its motion on Thursday, the prosecution said Campbell's evidence concerns a "central issue" in the case and she is in a position to provide "material evidence" to rebut Taylor's claims that he never possessed rough diamonds.

The prosecution said it has made repeated, but unsuccessful requests to interview Campbell about the event, adding that the British supermodel was "concerned for her safety" and that "judicial intervention" was now necessary to obtain her testimony.   Continued...