Friday, July 9, 2010

Supermodel Naomi Campbell Subpoenaed in War Crimes Trial

Naomi Campbell
      Model Naomi Campbell, Actress Mia Farrow, and Campbell’s former agent Carole White have been subpoenaed to appear in the U.N. backed trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor for war crimes. If proven, the allegations that Taylor gave Campbell rough-cut diamonds at Nelson Mandela’s reception in 1997 would provide an extraordinary piece of evidence against him. However, Taylor denies ever giving the rebels weapons in exchange for their diamonds and claims that he never owned rough diamonds.

      The former President of Liberia is charged with many human rights abuses including murder, torture, mutilation, rape, sexual slavery, use of child soldiers, and the backing of rebels in Sierra Leone’s long civil war. All totaled, Charles Taylor stands accused of victimizing an estimated half a million people.

      Farrow has provided the prosecutors with a written statement asserting that Campbell told her about the gift, and White allegedly witnessed the action. According to the “Daily Mail,” White herself said, “there were six small diamonds… I saw them. I had them in my hand.” Campbell denies ever receiving the diamonds. Until the summons was issued, she has refused to testify to protect her safety, and even violently erupted at an ABC News camera when asked about the diamonds.

      Now that Campbell’s lawyer has accepted the subpoena, the three women will be expected to appear at the trial in The Hague, Netherlands.

      Human Rights USA has a special interest in this celebrity connection to international justice, given our past work to hold Taylor’s son, “Chuckie Taylor,” accountable for human rights abuses he committed when his father was President of Liberia. As the leader of the Anti-Terrorist Unit, Taylor, Jr. committed horrific crimes against those who opposed his father’s regime. Many human rights groups have documented the extensive human rights abuses the ATU committed: torture, abduction, rape, recruiting child soldiers, beating people to death, and burning people alive. When Taylor, Jr. flew to the United States to escape responsibility for his crimes abroad, the U.S. government arrested him and eventually indicted him for the crime of torture – the first such prosecution in the U.S.. With the help of Human Rights USA, Taylor, Jr. was sentenced to 97 years in prison. Our clients, who were victims of his torture, subsequently filed a civil suit and were awarded $22.4 million in damages.

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