Mia Farrow testified Monday that model Naomi Campbell told her she had been sent a “huge diamond” by former Liberian President Charles Taylor, directly contradicting Campbell’s evidence last week at Taylor’s war crimes trial.
The prosecution called the American actress Farrow and Carole White, Campbell’s former agent, to testify about a gift of uncut diamonds that Taylor allegedly gave the model after a September 1997 party they all attended hosted by then-South African President Nelson Mandela.
Campbell, who had fought appearing before the war crimes court for months, testified reluctantly under subpoena Thursday that she was given several small stones by unknown men after the dinner in Pretoria. TheBritish fashion model said she hadn’t known they were diamonds nor who had sent them, and suggested that Farrow or White had commented at breakfast the next morning that they were probably diamonds from Taylor.
Farrow’s account Monday would dent Taylor’s denials of any involvement with the trade in illicit gems known as blood diamonds — stones used to fuel wars.
The prosecution claims Taylor traded guns to rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone in exchange for uncut diamonds during Sierra Leone’s 1992-2002 civil war, which left more than 100,000 dead in the West African nation.
Farrow testified that Campbell had told other guests over breakfast she had received a diamond from Taylor.
“She 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 they had given her a huge diamond,” Farrow told the court.
Under cross examination by defense lawyer Morris Kanneh, Farrow conceded she had never seen the diamond or diamonds herself. Confronted with statements by both Campbell and White that the gift was several small rough diamonds and not one “huge’ one, Farrow stuck by her story.
“I didn’t see the diamond or diamonds. I can only tell you what Naomi Campbell said,” Farrow said.
“Is it possible, Ms. Farrow, that your recollection is in error?” Kanneh asked.
“No. I think I would have remembered diamonds in the plural,” Farrow said, calling it “sort of an unforgettable moment.”
Farrow said Campbell had seemed excited by the gift and had said she would give it to charity.
South African businessman Jeremy Ratcliffe, the former head of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, on Friday confirmed that he still had three stones he had received from Campbell after the 1997 dinner. He handed them over to South African authorities and they have sincebeen confirmed as uncut diamonds.
Taylor denies all 11 charges he faces at the Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone, including murder, rape, sexual enslavement and recruiting child soldiers. Prosecutors allege Taylor armed and commanded Sierra Leone rebels who murdered and mutilated tens of thousands of civilians.
White is expected to take the stand later Monday. Defense lawyers are expected to challenge her credibility because she is enmeshed in a civil lawsuit with Campbell.
A few of Campbell’s former aides and maids have sued her, accusing her of violent outbursts. Some of the cases have been settled on undisclosed terms.