Prosecutors trying former Liberian president Charles Taylor for war crimes are asking judges to subpoena supermodel Naomi Campbell as a witness in the U.N. case against the exiled leader.
Prosecutors filed a motion asking for Campbell’s testimony about uncut “blood diamonds” given to Campbell by Taylor while the two attended a dinner at the home of South African president Nelson Mandela in 1997.
Taylor is currently on trial for war crimes committed during the violent conflict in Sierra Leone during the 1990s. Prosecutors allege that Taylor provided arms and ammunition to brutal rebels during Sierra Leone's civil war in exchange for diamonds. He denies the allegations.
Traditionally mined in a war zone and sold to finance the activities of warlords or insurgents, blood diamonds from Liberia were banned from importation into the United States by President George W. Bush in 2001.
Campbell has previously declined to voluntarily testify in the trial and has consistently declined to speak about the case, telling prosecutors she was "concerned for her safety" and "did not want to involve herself in the case."
But a photo taken by actress Mia Farrow, who is also testifying in the case, shows Campbell with Taylor at the dinner party in 1997. According to BBC News, prosecutors believe the photo, along with Farrow’s testimony and that of Campbell’s former agent linking her to the diamonds, are enough to force her testimony.
According to Farrow, Campbell told her about the uncut diamonds the morning after the dinner party, after Taylor’s people brought the gift to her room in the middle of the night.
Campbell’s former agent, Carole White, provides a similar account of the exchange, saying she overheard Taylor personally tell the model at the dinner that he would give her the diamonds. White said the men threw pebbles at her window later in the night, mistaking her room for Campbell’s, before she let them into the house. White then witnessed Taylor’s men give Campbell “a half dozen” stones.
According to White, Campbell was disappointed when she learned that the stones were uncut.
Farrow told ABC news that Campbell said she would give the diamonds to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. The Fund, however, says they have no records of receiving diamonds from Campbell.
Campbell has evaded speaking about the incident on several occasions, growing angry at reporters when questioned about it last month before pushing a camera to the ground. She told Oprah Winfrey in an appearance on the show that she would not discuss the allegations.
“"I don't want to be involved in this man's case -- he has done some terrible things and I don't want to put my family in danger."