Prosecutors in the trial of Charles Taylor have today filed a motion to call three additional witnesses before Special Court for Sierra Leone Trial Chamber judges as evidence in rebuttal against the former Liberian president, who is on trial for allegedly providing support to Sierra Leonean rebel forces during the country’s 11 year civil conflict. Prosecutors also filed an additional motion for the issuance of a subpoena to a British supermodel, who is alleged to have received a rough diamond from Mr. Taylor while he was on a trip to South Africa in 1997.
The “Prosecution Motion to Call Three Additional Witnesses,” signed by the court’s Chief Prosecutor, Ms. Brenda Hollis, relates to the incident regarding “the Accused’s [Charles Taylor] gift of rough diamonds to Ms. Naomi Campbell in September 1997 in South Africa while the accused was on a trip to various countries.”
The three witnesses who the prosecution intends to call are the supermodel who is alleged to have received the diamond from Mr. Taylor, “Ms. Naomi Campbell, Ms. Carole White, and Ms. Mia Farrow.” Prosecutors have indicated that the direct-examination of the three witnesses will be done within two hours and this therefore will not cause any undue delay of the court’s proceedings.
During the cross-examination of Mr. Taylor in January 2010, prosecutors raised the issue of Mr. Taylor allegedly giving the gift of a rough diamond to Ms. Campbell while the former president was on a visit to South Africa. Prosecutors alleged that Ms. Farrow, a close friend of Ms. Campbell, had informed them that the supermodel (Ms. Campbell) told her that after having dinner with former South African president Nelson Mandela in 1997, Mr. Taylor had sent his men to meet her in her hotel room and offer her a gift of a rough diamond – a diamond that prosecutors allege was obtained by Mr. Taylor from the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) military junta that, in partnership with Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, ruled Sierra Leone in 1997. Mr. Taylor dismissed the allegation as “nonsense.”
The judges refused to allow the admission of evidence relating to this incident because there was no evidence to show that Ms. Farrow had made such statement under oath or by sworn affidavit, the admission of such “fresh evidence” would be prejudicial to the accused, such prejudice outweighing the probative value of the evidence.
Prosecutors now argue in their motion that “the evidence was unknown to the prosecution when it formally closed its case on 27 February 2009.” They argue that “it concerns a ‘central issue’ to the prosecution’s case: The Accused’s possession of rough diamonds.”
“When considered in the totality of the prosecution evidence, the proposed evidence supports prosecution allegations that the Accused used rough diamonds for personal enrichment and arms purchases for Sierra Leone, especially during the AFRC/RUF period in 1997. The proposed evidence also rebuts the Accused testimony that he never possessed rough diamonds,” the prosecution motion states.
If judges grant the prosecution request to call these three additional witnesses, the next question will be how do they get Ms. Campbell to come to the court and testify about the alleged incident, after she has already refused to comment on the matter to newsmen. It is in this light that prosecutors have also requested the judges to issue a subpoena to oblige Ms. Campbell to avail herself before the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague.
Relying on the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, prosecutors are seeking that the subpoena be issued ordering Ms. Campbell to testify before the court and an order be given to the Registry of the court to serve and enforce the subpoena on Ms. Campbell.
“Ms. Campbell, the actual recipient of the Accused’ gift of diamonds, is clearly in a position to provide material evidence about this event,” the motion states.
“The prosecution’s repeated efforts to interview Ms. Campbell about this event have been unsuccessful and Ms. Campbell has given public statements that she does not wish to be involved in this case. Thus, judicial intervention in the form of a subpoena is necessary,” prosecutors argue.
It is not clear when the judges will rule on these applications and what exactly such rulings would be.
Inside the courtroom today, Mr. Taylor’s 12th defense witness, Mr. Joseph Menson Dehmie, concluded his direct-examination, continuing his rebuttal of the evidence of prosecution witness and former RUF radio operator Dauda Aruna Fornie, aka DAF, who in 2008 testified that he underwent training as a radio operator under Mr. Dehmie, who at that time was also a radio operator for Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group. The witness reiterated his position that Mr. Fornie was never trained as a radio operator and that the young man was a mere cook for whom he (Dehmie) provided assistance.
“Counsel, I have told you that the only thing that I know about DAF was that he was in need of assistance and I gave him assistance. He was a cook and he used to fetch water for us. He was not a radio man, he never held a microphone. He was a cook,” Mr. Dehmie said as he responded to questions about Mr. Fornie undergoing training as a radio operator.
Prosecutors commenced the witness’s cross-examination as soon his direct-examination was concluded in private session. Mr. Dehmie’s cross-examination continues tomorrow.