THE HAGUE - The actress Mia Farrow told a war crimes court on Monday that she had heard supermodel Naomi Campbell say she had been given a "huge diamond" by Charles Taylor when he was Liberia's president.
Campbell told the Special Court for Sierra Leone last week she had been given "dirty looking pebbles" after a 1997 dinner in South Africa, but did not know if they were diamonds from Taylor, on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In court on Monday, Farrow said the British model had joined a group of guests at breakfast after the charity dinner, hosted by South African president Nelson Mandela, and had started relating something that had happened overnight.
"She said in the night she had been awakened by men knocking at her door and they had been sent to her by Charles Taylor, and they had given her a huge diamond," Farrow told the court, adding that Campbell had been "quite excited" about it.
Farrow said Campbell had then said she intended to give the diamond to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, adding that "it was a sort of an unforgettable moment."
Taylor is charged with 11 counts of instigating murder, rape, mutilation, sexual slavery and conscription of child soldiers during wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone in which more than 250,000 people were killed. He denies all the charges.
The former manager of Mandela's Children Fund charity, Jeremy Ratcliffe, has said he received a number of uncut diamonds from Campbell, and handed them to South African police on Thursday after Campbell's testimony.
Prosecutors are seeking to link the gems to Taylor to prove allegations, which he denies, that he received diamonds
from rebels in Sierra Leone and used them to buy weapons.
Prosecutors showed Farrow Campbell's testimony from last week and a U.S. media interview in which she denied saying the diamonds were from Taylor, or denied getting diamonds at all.
Farrow said Campbell's versions of events were not consistent with hers. "Naomi Campbell said they came from Charles Taylor," she added under questioning.
In extended cross-examination, the defense primarily challenged Farrow's memory of the events 13 years ago, asking her whether it was possible that, while she was trying to help the court, "your recollection is failing you."
Farrow insisted: "I swear on this Bible that that is what Naomi Campbell said at that breakfast."
The defense also challenged Farrow's impartiality, pressing her on her willingness to help the prosecution and her efforts to persuade Campbell — who initially refused to appear at the court — to testify.
The trial, which has been running for three years, attracted little international attention until Campbell appeared.
Taylor's lead defense lawyer, Courtenay Griffiths, said last week that the focus on Campbell was a "complete distraction."
"The trial of the first African president brought before a court of law should have been followed by the world's media assiduously from the word 'go' and it hasn't. At the end of the day, it's the celebrity status of Naomi Campbell which has brought you all here," he said.
(Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block; Editing by Kevin Liffey)