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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid