News / Africa

Supermodel Appears at Charles Taylor War Crimes Trial

Multimedia

Supermodel Naomi Campbell has testified in the war crimes trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor.  She told the court she received "dirty looking stones" after a dinner with Mr. Taylor in 1997, but she said they had not been given to her by the former president himself, and she could not be sure if the stones were diamonds.  

Naomi Campbell was called to The Hague to answer questions about an evening in South Africa 13 years ago.  Campbell's former agent Carole White and actress Mia Farrow have said Campbell was given an uncut diamond by Charles Taylor after a dinner party hosted by Nelson Mandela.

Her version of events

In court, Campbell recounted her version of what happened.

"When I was sleeping I heard a knock at my door, and I opened my door and two men were there and gave me a pouch and said, 'A gift for you.'" Campbell said.

She told the court she did not open the pouch until the next morning.  When she looked inside, she found what she described as a few "small dirty looking stones."

The prosecutor asked Campbell if she knew who the gift was from.

"No.  The next morning at breakfast I told Ms. Farrow and Ms. White what had happened, and one of the two said, 'Well that's obviously Charles Taylor.'  And I just said, 'Yeah, I guess it was correct,'" she said.

Campbell said she gave the stones to a friend who was then director of Nelson Mandela's children's charity. The friend, Jeremy Ractliffe, said Friday he has handed over the diamonds to South African police. In a statement, he said he had kept the stones since Campbell gave them to him in 1997.

Why she tried to avoid testifying

Campbell is one of the world's highest paid models.  She fought to avoid testifying because she said she was concerned about the safety of her family.

But the prosecution had hoped her evidence would show that Mr. Taylor received so called "blood diamonds" from rebels in Sierra Leone during the country's decade-long civil war.

Prosecutors say Mr. Taylor - then president of West African Liberia - exchanged the diamonds for weapons, which he smuggled into Sierra Leone.

He is accused of arming and commanding rebels who raped, murdered, and mutilated thousands of civilians.

Why her testimony was important

Elly Harrowell is from the natural resources watchdog Global Witness.  She says Naomi Campbell's appearance at the trial is important.

"I think in such an important trial, it's very important that every piece of evidence is considered.  I also wonder whether if it's a good way of focusing the world's attention on the issue of blood diamonds and on this very important trial by getting such a high-profile figure involved with it," she said.

She says the media attention given to Campbell's testimony is a boon for the fight against conflict diamonds.

"I think it's very important to bring to people's attention that the issue of blood diamonds is a very important one; it's something that is still going on.  We have got cases of conflict diamonds in Cote d'Ivoire in West Africa and also in Zimbabwe where hundreds of people were murdered in the Marange diamond fields recently," said Harrowell.

What's next?

Campbell's testimony is now done, but her part in the former president's trial is not over.  Carole White and Mia Farrow, who each have their own account of that evening 13 years ago, are due to appear in court next week.

Charles Taylor faces 11 war crimes charges, including for murder, rape, and recruiting child soldiers.  He says he is innocent on all counts.  

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid