Prominent model ordered to testify before UN-backed war crimes court for Sierra Leone

1 July 2010

Judges at the United Nations-backed war crimes court in Sierra Leone today ordered the high-profile British model Naomi Campbell to give evidence later this month about a blood diamond in the ongoing trial of the notorious former Liberian president Charles Taylor.

A subpoena was issued for Ms. Campbell, 40, to appear on 29 July in The Hague in the Netherlands, where the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) is sitting for the trial of Mr. Taylor on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Three judges of the SCSL’s trial chamber, in announcing the subpoena, said they were responding to a request from prosecutors for Ms. Campbell to testify.

Media reports say the prosecution wants to ask Ms. Campbell about allegations that she was given a so-called blood diamond – a diamond that is mined in a war zone and then sold to finance the activities of an army, insurgency or warlord – by Mr. Taylor while attending a private dinner at the home of the former South African president Nelson Mandela in 1997.

Mr. Taylor has long been accused of using blood diamonds to fuel conflict in Sierra Leone while he served as president of neighbouring Liberia.

Mr. Taylor has pleaded not guilty to 11 charges, which include pillage, slavery for forced marriage purposes, collective punishment and the recruitment and use of child soldiers. The charges relate to his alleged support for two rebel groups in Sierra Leone – the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and the Revolutionary United Front.

The SCSL was set up jointly by the Sierra Leonean Government and the UN in 2002 and is headquartered in Freetown, the capital. It is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and national law committed on Sierra Leonean territory since the end of November 1996.


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