The supermodel, the dictator and the blood diamond at midnight

Naomi Campbell, Mia Farrow and Nelson Mandela in a tale of midnight assignations and blood diamonds delivered at bedroom doorways. The latest fantastical Hollywood screenplay? No, it's the latest twist in the bid to bring the west African dictator Charles Taylor to justice for war crimes.

Prosecutors last night asked the UN-backed court trying Mr Taylor to subpoena the British supermodel, as they seek to prove that the former Liberian president personally handled blood diamonds collected from Sierra Leonean rebels in return for arming them during a decade-long civil war.

"There is evidence that Ms Campbell was given rough diamonds by the accused in September 1997," prosecutor Brenda Hollis said in papers filed with the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

That September, Ms Campbell, Mr Taylor and Ms Farrow were all guests of the then-South African president, Nelson Mandela, at a charity dinner hosted at his Cape Town home.

According to Ms Farrow, the British model came down the next morning and regaled her breakfast companions with an "unforgettable story" about being woken up by aides to the Liberian leader who were delivering a glittering 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.

When the US network tried to question Ms Campbell about the incident, the model, who has widely acknowledged anger-management issues, punched the camera and stormed off.

Mr Taylor – on trial in The Hague for murder, rape, mutilation and sexual slavery during wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone that killed more than a quarter of a million – has dismissed the reports as "totally, totally inaccurate".

However, the prosecution said that in recent days, Carole White, the model's agent at the time of the Cape Town dinner party, had corroborated Ms Farrow's account. "She personally heard Mr Taylor say that he wanted to give diamonds to Ms Campbell and she personally saw the diamonds delivered," Ms Hollis said in her motion.

According to the prosecution, the incident rebuts Mr Taylor's testimony that he was never in possession of blood diamonds. "I was supposed to be such a scumbag that people were bringing me diamonds in nothing but a mayonnaise jar? How much more can you demonise me?" the Liberian strongman scornfully told the court earlier in the trial.

Prosecutors say they were forced to seek to subpoena Ms Campbell after her repeated refusals to be formally interviewed about the incident, either on the telephone or in person.

In an appearance on Oprah Winfrey's sofa earlier this month, Ms Campbell shed some light on her motives to stay away from the Hague courtroom. "I don't want to be involved in this man's case – he has done some terrible things and I don't want to put my family in danger," she told the queen of American daytime television.

Ms Campbell's agent had no immediate comment to make last night.

Judges in The Hague must now decide whether to grant the subpoena request. If they do, and Ms Campbell still refuses to appear, the court could then seek the assistance of the British government to get her to the witness stand, court officials said.

Mr Taylor, the first African leader to stand trial for war crimes, is facing 11 charges including murder, rape, mutilation and sexual slavery during wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone that killed more than a quarter of a million.

His defence is expected to wrap up this summer. After that, prosecutors want permission to reopen their case, so they can call Mses Campbell, Farrow and White to the stand.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
peopleJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Systems Analyst (Retail)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Up to 20% bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An...

Year 3/4 Teacher

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: "Where teaching is e...

Geography Teacher

£20000 - £2300001000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: If working in a...

English Teacher

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: If working in an out...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice