Having refused to testify against Charles Taylor, the thuggish former Liberian president currently being tried at the Hague for war crimes, it now seems likely that the supermodel Naomi Campbell will be subpoenaed instead.
The story goes that after a dinner party hosted by Nelson Mandela at his home in South Africa, Ms Campbell was visited in her hotel room in the middle of the night by envoys sent by Taylor, who presented her with an enormous uncut diamond. Campbell allegedly told Mia Farrow about the gift the following morning, but has since denied receiving it to anyone who asks.
Some might think this romantic, but the diamond, if it existed, was a blood diamond from Sierra Leone, Liberia’s nextdoor neighbour, and was paid for with the weapons and soldiers deployed in that country’s vicious civil war.
This, of course, could stain Campbell’s impeccable reputation. She has said she does not want to testify because ‘Taylor has done some terrible things,’ (er, I think that’s why they want you to testify dear) and because she is ‘concerned for her safety.’
By 1997, Sierra Leone’s war was already several years old and approaching its most apocalyptic stage. Already, thousands had been killed or had hands, lips, legs or noses cut off by men and boys funded and supplied with weapons and drugs by Taylor, who needed Sierra Leone’s diamonds for his own insurgency in Liberia (which itself caused a quarter of a million deaths). So Taylor had already ‘done some terrible things’ by the time he allegedly gave Campbell the diamond. Perhaps Campbell hadn’t researched his past (she is a busy woman), but what is Mandela’s excuse for inviting him to dinner?
Apparently, Campbell promised Farrow she would give the diamond to Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Fund, but the Fund denies having ever received it. This could get interesting.