Actress Mia Farrow said Naomi Campbell told her she received a “huge diamond” from men sent by former Liberian President Charles Taylor, contradicting the supermodel’s testimony at a war-crimes tribunal last week.
Campbell “said that in the night she had been awakened, some men were knocking at the door and they had been sent by Charles Taylor and had given her a huge diamond,” Farrow, 65, said today during the war-crimes trial of Taylor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam, the Netherlands.
Campbell told the court last week that two strangers handed her some “dirty looking stones” after a dinner at Nelson Mandela’s home in South Africa in 1997. Campbell said she at first didn’t know the stones were diamonds or who had given them to her. Farrow said she hadn’t been shown any stones.
Taylor, who is on trial for crimes against humanity during the Sierra Leone civil war, has been accused by Chief Prosecutor Brenda Hollis of giving the British model a diamond after the Mandela dinner. Conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, have been used to fund wars throughout Africa.
Taylor last year denied providing weapons to fighters in the Revolutionary United Front, a Sierra Leone rebel movement, in exchange for diamonds. The testimonies of Farrow and Carole White, Campbell’s former agent, on the gift to the supermodel may refute Taylor’s claim he never possessed rough diamonds.
Campbell and Taylor were “mildly flirting” at the dinner table, White told the court today. “Naomi was very excited and told me ‘Oh, he’s going to give me some diamonds’.”
White, with whom Campbell has an ongoing legal dispute, said she was present in the lounge of the presidential guesthouse late at night when two unknown “big powerful African men” handed Campbell a “quite scruffy paper” which contained five or six diamonds. “She opened them and showed them to me, and they were quite disappointing because they weren’t shiny,” White, 60, told the court.
Carole White “was not with me when I received them,” Campbell told the court last week. “It is someone I trusted and worked with and it is someone I no longer trust.”
Farrow and Campbell were in South Africa to attend a fundraising activity of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. Farrow testified that Campbell said she intended to donate her gift to the fund.
Campbell, 40, last week told the court she gave the stones she said she’d received to Jeremy Ratcliffe, at the time the head of the charity.
South African police on Aug. 6 said a trustee of the fund handed over uncut diamonds he received from Campbell, the South African Press Association reported.
Ken Macdonald, a lawyer for Campbell, didn’t immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment on today’s testimonies.
Taylor has pleaded innocent to 11 counts including enlisting child soldiers, murder and sexual slavery during the 1991-2002 civil war in Sierra Leone. As many as 250,000 people were killed in the conflict.
If Taylor “is guilty of the crimes he is accused of, I am gratified” that he is “involved in a procedure that would bring him to justice,” Farrow told the court.
From the late 1980s, Taylor headed the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, an armed group, prosecutors said. Taylor, now 62, was president of the country in western Africa from 1997 to 2003. Prosecutors have said Taylor led a campaign to terrorize the civilians of Sierra Leone, which neighbors Liberia, as he sought control of that country’s diamond mines.
Taylor was apprehended in Nigeria and transferred to The Hague in 2006. The court was set up in 2002 by the United Nations and Sierra Leone to prosecute those responsible for breaking international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law in the country since 1996.
Eight people have been sentenced to jail terms ranging from 15 to 52 years by the court, which will close down after Taylor’s trial.