Mia Farrow contradicts Naomi Campbell in Charles Taylor trial

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Actor says it was the supermodel herself who said 'dirty looking stones' were gift from ex-Liberian warlord, not her

Naomi Campbell told guests staying at Nelson Mandela's home in South Africa in September 1997 that she had received diamonds from the former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, according to testimony given to a court in The Hague today by the actor Mia Farrow.

Speaking before the special court for Sierra Leone, the US film star contradicted parts of evidence given by the supermodel last week, in which Campbell alleged that she had no idea who had sent her the "dirty looking stones" until breakfasting with Farrow and others the morning after.

Asked whether, as Campbell had claimed, it was Farrow herself who had said that the gift must have come from Taylor as "no one else" would have done it, Farrow replied: "Absolutely not. Naomi Campbell said they came from Charles Taylor."

She added: "What I remember is Naomi Campbell joined us at the [breakfast] table but before she even sat down she recounted an event of that evening.

"She said that in the night she had been awakened and some men were knocking at the door and they had been sent by Charles Taylor and … they had given her a huge diamond. And she said she intended to give the diamonds to Nelson Mandela's children's fund."

Pressed by the prosecution on whose suggestion it was that the mysterious donor was Taylor, the then recently elected president of Liberia, Farrow said: "Only hers. I didn't know anything about it." Campbell, she added, was "quite excited" about the gift.

In her testimony on Thursday, the 40-year-old model said she believed it had been Farrow who had told her that Taylor was behind the gift. However, when Farrow was asked today what she had known about the warlord at the charity dinner, she told the court that she had not known anything much about Taylor.

"Shamefully I didn't know any connection with diamonds or anything like that, with him at the time," she said.

However a defence lawyer for Taylor argued that all Farrow's testimony was "based on your recollection of what you heard 13 years ago". A lot had happened during that period, the lawyer added, mentioning the suicide of Farrow's brother and the death of her daughter.

But Farrow insisted she was sure of her account. Campbell's story, she said, had been "an unforgettable moment".

During cross-examination, Farrow was asked why she had referred to only "one huge" diamond rather than several, as everyone else had done. "I can only contribute a very small part to this and that is what Naomi Campbell said," she said, pointing out that she had not seen the diamonds. "That's what she said."

The defence also pressed her on her claims that Graça Machel, who is now Mandela's wife, had "seemed a little distressed" about the presence of Taylor at the dinner. Farrow had arrived at the presidential residence to be greeted by Machel telling her, she said, "in effect, 'you don't want anything to do with him'."

"I remember clearly this: that Mrs Machel shepherded me and the children" away from him, she said.

Despite this recalled anxiety, the defence lawyer pointed out, Machel had subsequently allowed Taylor, Mandela, Farrow and herself to all appear in a photograph together. "She is a strong woman," he said, referring to Machel's first marriage to Samora Machel, a revolutionary leader. "This woman who has been with a guerrilla fighter in Mozambique … you think Charles Taylor would make such a woman uncomfortable?"

Farrow was also asked to try to remember how many people were at the dinner. She said she could not be sure that Taylor had even stayed for the dinner. "I believe he may have departed," she said, adding later: "I cannot swear that he was there or that he was not."

Dressed in a black suit with her distinctive curly hair falling around her shoulders, Farrow, 65, spoke softly while questioned by a lawyer for the prosecution, which is attempting to gather evidence to link Taylor to a trade in conflict diamonds from Sierra Leone rebels fighting a bloody civil war.

The 62-year-old former president denies the allegations, as he does all 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity put to him by the SCSL.

Questioned about her relationship with Campbell, Farrow spoke in glowing terms about the model, who she said she got to know through their charitable activities in South Africa. "She was very maternal not only with my kids but with the models [she had brought over for a charity fashion show]," said the Golden Globe winner, adding Campbell had once even given her daughter a dress. "She was absolutely great," she added.

Farrow was less glowing about other guests at the dinner, held at Mandela's residence in Pretoria. She had no recollection of Carole White, Campbell's then agent who is due to give evidence later today, and described the Pakistani cricketer and politician Imran Khan as "a soccer player".

White had been supposed to testify before Farrow, but a last-minute change of plan led to the order being reversed. Courtenay Griffiths, Taylor's defence lawyer, told the court he was "seriously angry" about the change. The prosecution, he said, was "playing fast and loose with the court".

 

allegation : zarzut

allege : twierdzić

contradict : zaprzeczać

cross-examination : przesłuchanie

depart : odjeżdżać, opuszczać

distinctive : charakterystyczny

donor : darczyńca

glowing : przychylny

play fast and loose with : traktować niedbale, po łebkach

prosecution : prokurator, oskarżyciel

recollection : wspomnienie

recount : opowiadać

refer to : nawiązywać do

reverse : odwracać, zmieniać kolejność

shepherd (away) : pilnować (z daleka od), chronić

subsequently : następnie

testify : zeznawać

testimony : zeznanie

 

 

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