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Blood Diamonds: Supermodel Naomi Campbell may be compelled to Testify at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. (Updated)

Published on June 29, 2010        Author: 

Sylvia Ngane is a doctoral candidate and Graduate Teaching Assistant at the School of Law, University of Leeds, UK. Her article “Witnesses Before the International Criminal Court” is published in (2009) 8 Law and Practice of International Courts and Tribunals 431-457.

Editor’s Note: In a decision issued on the same day this piece was posted, the Special Court for Sierra Leone upheld the Prosecution’s request and directed the Prosecutor to call Naomi Campbell as a witness.

In May of this year, the trial of Charles Taylor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) took a dramatic twist, when prosecutors requested the judges, to issue a subpoena to supermodel Naomi Campbell requiring her appearance before the Chambers. On the same day, the SCSL Prosecutors made an application that they be allowed to reopen their case, which was closed in February 2009, or bring evidence in rebuttal against Taylor by calling three additional witnesses, Campbell, Carole White and Mia Farrow. Campbell is required to testify as a witness about a diamond gift she allegedly received from Taylor in South Africa in 1997. Rule 54 of the SCSL Rules of Procedure and Evidence which is the applicable statutory provision for granting subpoenas, provides that: ‘At the request of either party or of its own motion, a judge or a Trial Chamber may issue such orders, subpoenas, warrants and transfer orders as may be necessary for the purposes of an investigation or for the preparation or conduct of the trial’

The judges will grant a subpoena if it is ‘necessary’ to bring to court an unwilling but important witness. In the Taylor case, the Prosecution submits that Campbell’s testimony is necessary as it concerns a central issue in the case, the Accused possession of rough diamonds. They argue that her evidence is highly probative and material to the Indictment since it is direct evidence of the Accused’s possession of rough diamonds from a witness unrelated to the Liberian or Sierra Leone conflicts. According to the Prosecution, this corroborates Prosecution evidence that the Accused received diamonds from the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), the military junta, which in partnership with Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels,  ruled Sierra Leone in 1997 during the Indictment period. In addition, Campbell’s anticipated evidence supports the Prosecution allegations that the Accused used rough diamonds for personal enrichment and arms purchases for Sierra Leone, particularly during the AFRC/RUF period. Read the rest of this entry…

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