Actress Mia Farrow told a war crimes court that she had heard supermodel Naomi Campbell say she had been given a “huge diamond” by Charles Taylor when he was Liberia’s president.
Campbell told the Special Court for Sierra Leone last week she had been given “dirty looking pebbles” after a 1997 dinner in South Africa, but did not know if they were diamonds from Taylor, on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In court on Monday, Farrow said the British 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, Reuters reports.
“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.
The former manager of Mandela’s Children Fund charity, Jeremy Ratcliffe, has said he received a number of uncut diamonds from Campbell, and handed them to South African police on Thursday after Campbell’s testimony. Prosecutors are seeking to link the gems to Taylor to prove allegations, which he denies, that he received diamonds from rebels in Sierra Leone and used them to buy weapons.
Prosecutors showed Farrow Campbell’s testimony from last week and a US media interview in which she denied saying the diamonds were from Taylor, or denied getting diamonds at all. Farrow said Campbell’s versions of events were not consistent with hers. “Naomi Campbell said they came from Charles Taylor,” she added under questioning.
When the defence suggested that her 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.”
Under questioning from the judge, Farrow admitted she was unsure whether Campbell had said it was a “huge” or “large” diamond.
Defence lawyer Griffiths told the court: “Either Mia Farrow is lying for her own reasons, or she is mistaken.” Later he told reporters: “Mia Farrow is here to follow her own agenda. She sees herself as the modern-day Mother Teresa for Africa.”
Farrow countered by telling the court: “If he (Taylor) is guilty of the crimes he is accused of, I am gratified that he is in this procedure, that he will be brought to justice.”