Posted: Aug 9, 2010 8:52 PM by Alison Haynes
LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands (AP) - Naomi Campbell flirted with
Liberia's former president across the dinner table at Nelson
Mandela's presidential mansion in 1997 and boasted the following
morning that Charles Taylor had given her a huge diamond during the
night, Mia Farrow and another witness testified at Taylor's war
crimes trial Monday.
Prosecutors hope testimony from the actress-turned-human rights
activist and from Campbell's estranged former modeling agent will
help tie Taylor to the illicit "blood diamond" trade that fueled
Sierra Leone's civil war. Both contradicted Campbell's account from
the witness stand last week that she did not know the nature or
value of what she had received.
However, even if judges accept the women's testimony, it seems
unlikely to change the course of the trial. Neither claimed to know
for certain it was Taylor that gave Campbell the diamonds, meaning
the episode will almost certainly be a surreal interlude of glamour
in a grim case focused on murder and mutilation in the jungles of
Taylor says he is innocent of 11 war-crimes charges linked to
allegations he supported rebels during Sierra Leone's vicious
11-year civil war, which ended in 2002 with an estimated 100,000
He has dismissed suggestions he was involved in the diamond
trade as "complete, complete nonsense."
Farrow, however, recounted what she called the "unforgettable"
memory of an excited Campbell coming down for breakfast the morning
after Mandela's dinner party, so excited she could hardly sit.
"She said 'Oh my God, last night I was awakened by men knocking
at the door and it was men sent by Charles Taylor and he sent me a
huge diamond'," Farrow said.
Campbell, who resisted appearing before the war-crimes court for
months, testified under subpoena Thursday that she was given
several small "dirty-looking" stones by men she didn't know after
the function in Pretoria.
The British model said she hadn't known they were diamonds, nor
who had sent them, and said Farrow was the one who suggested the
gift was from Taylor.
Defense lawyers accused the prosecution of calling the unlikely
witnesses as a publicity stunt to raise the profile of the trial,
which has gone on for more than two years. Taylor himself was on
the stand for seven months, portraying himself as an African
liberator and statesman who sought to bring stability and peace to
his turbulent corner of the continent.
Taylor's chief counsel, Courtenay Griffiths, said Farrow was
unlikely to accurately remember what happened at a breakfast 13
years ago. He noted that Campbell received three uncut diamonds -
not the single diamond Farrow insisted she heard Campbell talk
The defense also suggested Farrow's credibility was tainted by
her activism, particularly her campaigns for the victims of
Farrow, 65, conceded she had never seen the diamond or diamonds
herself, and that Campbell might not have used the word "huge."
But she insisted remembering Campbell only mentioned a single
South African businessman Jeremy Ractliffe, the former head of
the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, confirmed last week he had
three stones he had received from Campbell to donate to charity
after the 1997 dinner. He said he hadn't done anything with them
because he feared that a blood diamond scandal might attach to
Mandela or Campbell as a result. He has now handed them over to
South African authorities and they have been identified as uncut
diamonds, but their origins are unknown.
In court, Judge Julia Sebutinde asked Farrow whether it was
possible she might have seen the 2006 movie "Blood Diamond" and
been influenced by its plot, which centers on a single large
But Farrow denied any suggestion that she was confusing reality
Agent Carole White, who fell out with Campbell several years
ago, told the court that Taylor and her then-client enjoyed each
other's company at the dinner table.
"I think she was flirting with him and he was flirting back,"
At one point during the meal, White said, Campbell leaned back
to speak to her. She "was very excited and she told me he was
going to give her some diamonds," White told the court.
She said Campbell later appeared disappointed when she saw the
uncut diamonds and they were "not very impressive and not
But under cross examination, Griffiths strongly challenged
"You have a very powerful motive for lying," he said, noting
that White is suing Campbell for millions of dollars over an
alleged breach of contract.
Campbell has served community service twice after pleading
guilty in minor assault cases. A few of her former aides and maids
have sued her, accusing her of violent outbursts and usually
settling on undisclosed terms.
In all, 91 witnesses testified against Taylor before this week.
The court has heard evidence of radio dispatches between him and
rebels, how weapons were allegedly smuggled in bags of rice in
exchange for diamonds carried in a mayonnaise jar. The court has
also heard from numerous victims and witnesses of atrocities. One
of Taylor's former aides testified to witnessing Taylor eat a human
His lawyers have dismissed such allegations as lies.