After months of refusing to cooperate, supermodel Naomi Campbell has now agreed to testify in person at the "blood diamond" trial of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor. The decision by the international tribunal to subpoena Campbell came following an ABC News report about allegations that Taylor had given her uncut "blood" diamonds on a trip to South Africa.
"Whilst she would rather not be involved in this case at all, she will nevertheless attend to assist the court as requested," her lawyer, Gideon Benaim, told ABC News Tuesday.
Campbell will fly to The Hague in early August to give her version of events the night she met Taylor at the home of Nelson Mandela in 1997. She had initially been asked to appear on July 29, but the date has now been moved to August 5.
Until the ABC News report, Campbell had refused to cooperate with the Special Court for Sierra Leone where Taylor is standing trial. Taylor is charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The London-born beauty took center stage at the trial in January when prosecutors introduced evidence that Taylor had given her a rough-cut diamond in the middle of the night, following a dinner at Mandela's home.
Lawyers for the Special Court allege that Taylor's gift came from a stash of uncut diamonds the former Liberian warlord used to buy weapons to fund rebel groups and foment violence in the neighboring West African country of Sierra Leone.
The prosecution first learned of the alleged gift of "blood diamonds" from actress Mia Farrow, who had accompanied Campbell on the 1997 trip and was a guest at the Mandela home the night the diamonds were purportedly offered. After an ABC News report on the alleged gift, Campbell's former agent Carole White came forward and told prosecutors that she was also at the dinner, and was with Campbell later that evening when a group of Taylor's men delivered a half-dozen uncut diamonds.
Campbell was "disappointed" by the stones, according to White's lawyer Daniel Bright, because they were not yet cut to sparkle like the diamonds used in jewelry.
Both White and Farrow are scheduled to testify after Campbell.
Farrow told ABC News that she saw Campbell the morning after the dinner. According to Farrow, Campbell was "all a-twitter" when she recounted how she was given "a huge diamond" by Taylor's men in the middle of the night.
Campbell Denies Receiving Diamond
When ABC News asked Campbell about the incident at New York Fashion Week in February, she denied ever having received a blood diamond.
"I didn't receive a diamond and I'm not going to speak about that, thank you very much. And I'm not here for that," said Campbell.
She stormed out of the interview, slapping a producer's camera.
Less than two weeks after ABC News aired the report about the alleged blood diamond gift, Campbell appeared on Oprah saying that she "did not want to be involved in this man's case," but she did not confirm or deny receiving a diamond.
"He has done some terrible things and I don't want to put my family in danger," Campbell told Oprah and her millions of viewers in early May.
Campbell's lawyer Benaim said that she is only a witness at Taylor's trial, and it is not alleged that she has done anything wrong.
"Naomi has not done anything wrong. She is a witness and not on trial herself," said Benaim.
Taylor has been on trial for almost three years at the U.N.'s Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is being held at the World Court in the Netherlands, and has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.
The warfare in Sierra Leone, where diamonds were used by African rebels and allegedly by Taylor to raise money for a bloody rampage from 1997 to 2001, killed or maimed tens of thousands. Taylor's lawyers have argued there is scant direct evidence that connects Taylor to the diamonds or the atrocities.
"The issue here is not whether such atrocities were indeed committed but who was responsible and specifically was Charles Taylor the person responsible," Courtenay Griffiths, Taylor's lead counsel, told ABC News.
Taylor has angrily denied dealing in blood diamonds. When pressed on the stand in November by Chief Prosecutor Brenda Hollis about whether he sent his men to give a diamond to Campbell, Taylor called the allegation "total nonsense."