Campbell wins right to privacy in diamond trial
Wednesday 04 August 2010
Pouring fresh intrigue on to what is already shaping up to be one of the most remarkable legal cases of recent times, involving a supermodel, a former warlord and a blood diamond, a court focusing on war crimes in Sierra Leone has granted Naomi Campbell "protective measures" ahead of her appearance at the Hague to give evidence in the case against the former rebel leader, Charles Taylor.
In an unusual move usually preserved for witnesses who fear for their safety, the Special Court for Sierra Leone granted Campbell the right for a lawyer to be present in court to ensure that she did not give any evidence that might incriminate her.
The court, presided over by Justice Julia Sebutinde, said the lawyer would have "limited right to be heard solely on the admissibility of any questions put to Campbell which go to possible self-incrimination".
The court also ordered officials to ensure "no person shall photograph, or video record Campbell while entering the Tribunal building, exiting from the Tribunal building, or while she is in the Tribunal building, without leave of the Trial Chamber or Campbell".
A spokesman for the Special Court in the Hague, where Campbell is due to give evidence tomorrow, could not say definitively if this would prevent the model from being photographed by journalists standing outside the court.
A request that such restrictions be extended to her transit to and from court within Holland was turned down on the grounds it was outside the court's jurisdiction.
Campbell's testimony, however, will be recorded as usual by courtroom cameras, but members of the public, media or staff inside the court are also forbidden from revealing any details of her appearance apart from what she says in her public testimony while she takes the stand.
Campbell was issued with a subpoena to attend the trial after actress Mia Farrow and the model's former agent, Carole White, said she received a rough diamond from Taylor after a glittering charity party hosted by Nelson Mandela in South Africa in 1997.
According to Farrow, the British model came down to breakfast the next morning and told the table of an "unforgettable story" about being woken up by aides to the Liberian leader who came to her hotel room bearing a glinting gift from their boss.
"You don't forget when a girlfriend tells you that she was given a huge diamond in the middle of the night," the American actress told ABC News.
Mr Taylor, 62, is charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, over his alleged involvement in the civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone, including murder, rape and conscripting child soldiers.
He is accused of arming and controlling Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel force responsible for widespread atrocities.
Prosecutors say Mr Taylor's alleged possession of rough diamonds is a "central issue" in the case against him, and supports allegations he was given the stones by the RUF to buy weapons for them.
Campbell was granted the legal "protective measures" – which are usually reserved for witnesses at risk of revenge attacks – to "protect her privacy and security".
Earlier this week, lawyers defending Mr Taylor filed an urgent motion in an attempt to delay Campbell giving evidence.
The former leader's defence filed the motion because they had not been provided with a summary of Campbell's testimony ahead of her appearance in court, according to a spokesman for the Special Court of Sierra Leone.
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