LEIDSCHENDAM, NETHERLANDS (AP) - Mia Farrow testified Monday that model Naomi Campbell told her she had been sent a “huge diamond” by former Liberian President Charles Taylor, directly contradicting Campbell’s evidence last week at Taylor’s war crimes trial.
The prosecution called the American actress Farrow and Carole White, Campbell’s former agent, to testify about a gift of uncut diamonds that Taylor allegedly gave the model after a September 1997 party they all attended hosted by then-South African President Nelson Mandela.
Campbell, who had fought appearing before the war crimes court for months, testified reluctantly under subpoena Thursday that she was given several small stones by unknown men after the dinner in Pretoria. The British model said she hadn’t known they were diamonds nor who had sent them, and suggested that Farrow or White had commented at breakfast the next morning that they were probably diamonds from Taylor.
The prosecution claims Taylor traded guns to rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone in exchange for uncut diamonds during Sierra Leone’s 1992-2002 civil war, which left more than 100,000 dead in the West African nation.
Taylor has denied any involvement with the trade in illicit gems known as blood diamonds _ stones used to fuel wars.
Farrow testified that Campbell had told other guests over breakfast in 1997 she had received a “huge diamond” from Taylor. She said Campbell said she planned to give it to charity _ the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
“She said that in the night she had been awakened, some men were knocking at the door, and they had been sent by Charles Taylor, and they had given her a huge diamond,” Farrow told the court. She added that Campbell seemed “excited, happy” at the gift.
But under lengthy cross examination, Farrow, 65, conceded she had never seen the diamond or diamonds herself.
Confronted with Campbell’s testimony that the gift was three small rough diamonds that looked like pebbles and not one “huge’ polished diamond, Farrow stuck by her story, saying “I can only tell you what Naomi Campbell said.”
“I think I would have remembered diamonds in the plural,” Farrow said, calling it “sort of an unforgettable moment.”
South African businessman Jeremy Ractliffe, the former head of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, on Friday confirmed that he still had three stones he had received from Campbell after the 1997 dinner. He said he hadn’t done anything with them because he feared that a blood diamond scandal might attach to Mandela or Campbell as a result. He has now handed them over to South African authorities and they have been identified as uncut diamonds.
On Monday, Ractliffe told The Associated Press in Johannesburg that he has not been called to testify by the war crimes court and is cooperating with a South African police investigation into whether any laws were violated in the handling of the diamonds.
In court, Judge Julia Sebutinde asked Farrow whether it was possible she might have seen the 2006 movie “Blood Diamond” and been influenced by its plot, which centers on a single large diamond.
“Your honor, I know she didn’t say a few, a certainly not ‘stones’. She may not have used the word ‘huge’,” Farrow said. “But it wasn’t several diamonds and it certainly wasn’t stones because … why would she give stones to Nelson Mandela’s charity?”
Outside the courtroom, Taylor defense lawyer Courtenay Griffiths said Farrow sees herself as a “Mother Teresa” of Africa, noting her activism on behalf of conflict victims, especially in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region.