THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Actress Mia Farrow told a war crimes court Monday that she had heard Naomi Campbell say she had been given a “huge diamond” by Charles Taylor, contradicting the British supermodel’s testimony last week.
Campbell told the Special Court for Sierra Leone she had been given “dirty looking pebbles” after a 1997 dinner in South Africa, but did not know if they were diamonds from the then Liberian president, on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In court Monday, Farrow said the model had joined a group of guests at breakfast after the charity dinner, hosted by South African president Nelson Mandela, and had started relating something that had happened overnight.
“She said in the night she had been awakened by men knocking at her door and they had been sent to her by Charles Taylor, and they had given her a huge diamond,” Farrow said, adding that Campbell had been “quite excited” about it.
Farrow told the court Campbell had said she would give the diamond to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, adding that “it was a sort of an unforgettable moment.”
Taylor is charged with 11 counts of instigating murder, rape, mutilation, sexual slavery and conscription of child soldiers during wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone in which more than 250,000 people were killed. He denies all the charges.
Defence lawyer Courtenay Griffiths questioned Farrow’s recollection and also her impartiality, because of her active campaigning for justice for the victims of Africa’s wars.
Prosecutors are seeking to link the gems to Taylor to prove allegations that he received diamonds from rebels in Sierra Leone and used them to buy weapons.
The trial, which has been running for three years, attracted little international attention until Campbell’s appearance was broadcast, and Griffiths said last week that the focus on Campbell was a “complete distraction.”
Campbell’s former modelling agent Carole White also gave testimony Monday and said Campbell and Taylor had been “mildly flirting” with each other at the dinner and she overheard Taylor discussing the diamonds with Campbell.
White said she was present when two men gave Campbell a “scruffy paper” containing five or six diamonds, adding they “were quite disappointing” because they were not shiny.
Griffiths, trying to discredit White’s testimony, noted that a multi-million dollar breach of contract lawsuit she had lodged against Campbell had given her “a powerful reason to lie.”
He also referred to a photo on social media website Facebook of a party White attended last week, dubbed “blood diamond night” by a member of her staff.
When the defence suggested that Farrow’s memory of the events of 13 years ago was failing her, Farrow insisted: “I swear on this bible that that is what Naomi Campbell said at that breakfast.”
Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block; Editing by Kevin Liffey