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Supermodel to Testify Against former Liberian President Taylor

A former prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone said the scheduled testimony of supermodel Naomi Campbell Thursday will be crucial for the prosecution at the ongoing war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

Syracuse University professor David Crane told VOA there is corroborative evidence that the former Liberian leader sent an uncut diamond to the room of Campbell in 1997 after they met at dinner.

“The testimony itself is important because the prosecution wants to show that Charles Taylor has the mindset or what we call the mens rea (Latin for ‘criminal intent’) to use the blood diamonds that were mined by Sierra Leoneans chained to pits in the Kailahun and Kenema area. And, he was using them for various reasons: to buy guns, to use cash to deposit, and also to buy influence,” he said.

Crane expressed confidence that the gift allegedly given to the supermodel in 1997 was a blood diamond.

But, Mr. Taylor denied the accusation saying that he never possessed any uncut diamonds. The attorney for Taylor described Campbell’s testimony as a cheap publicity tactic employed by the prosecution.

Syracuse University Professor David Crane
Syracuse University Professor David Crane

Crane said the war crimes charges against the former Liberian leader are credible.

“He is individually criminally responsible for the murder, rape, maiming and mutilation and the 11-count indictment that he faces of 1.2 million human beings, and that is a horrific history. And so, before I signed the indictment against Charles Taylor in March of 2003, I made sure that the charges and evidence against him were solid and that, before a fair tribunal, he will be convicted,” Crane said.

He rejected the defense assertion that the testimony of Naomi Campbell is a mere publicity stunt saying the chief prosecutor and her team are professionals who follow the law.