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|August 12, 2010|
Many questions have been coming my way regarding the Charles Taylor trial and the question of his gift of a diamond or a number of diamonds to Naomi Campbell. In the Hague this week, I gave my testimony . I don’t intend to comment further. For more information about Charles Taylor and the trial, you could check out the websites below. Daily updates are provided by a Sierra Leonean lawyer, Alpha Sesay, who has been monitoring the trial since May 2008.
1.· Who is Charles Taylor? From 1989 to 1997, Charles Taylor was leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), a rebel group that fought in Liberia to overthrow the government of Samuel K. Doe. From 1997 to 2003, Taylor was the democratic president of Liberia. In August 2003, based on an agreement with African Heads of State, Taylor left office after rebel forces had come close to entering the Liberian capital, Monrovia. He was granted political asylum in Nigeria. In March 2006, Taylor was transferred to the custody of the Special Court for Sierra Leone where he now faces trial.
2.Who is trying Charles Taylor? The Special Court for Sierra Leone is trying Charles Taylor. Although the trial is being held in The Hague, Mr. Taylor is still being tried by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The trial is taking place on the premises of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
3. How and why was the Special Court for Sierra Leone established? The Special Court for Sierra Leone was established on January 16, 2002, under an agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone. It was established to try “those who bear the greatest responsibility” for war crimes, crimes against humanity, other serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since November 30, 1996.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone differs from other international tribunals such as the Ad Hoc International Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Special Court is a hybrid tribunal that makes a blend of international and Sierra Leonean domestic law, as well as a blend of international and domestic Sierra Leonean personnel. Among the eleven judges of the Special Court, seven were appointed by the Secretary General of the United Nations while four were appointed by the Government of Sierra Leone. Among these judges, three are Sierra Leoneans, appointed by the Government of Sierra Leone. In like manner, the Prosecutor was appointed by the Secretary General of the United Nations while the Deputy Prosecutor, a Sierra Leonean, was appointed by the Government of Sierra Leone.
4. “Why is Charles Taylor being prosecuted and what crimes is he charged with? Charles Taylor is charged with 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone from November 30, 1996, to January 18, 2002. The Prosecutor alleges that Mr. Taylor is responsible for crimes which include murdering and mutilating civilians, including cutting off their limbs; using women and girls as sex slaves; and abducting children adults and forcing them to perform forced labor or become fighters during the conflict in Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor has pleaded not guilty.
Mr. Taylor is charged on the basis that he allegedly backed Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels fighting in Sierra Leone; that he had links with senior leaders in the RUF—such as Foday Sankoh, Sam Bockarie (a.k.a. Mosquito), Issa Sesay, and others—in addition to a second warring faction, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC); and that he was responsible for Liberian forces fighting in support of the Sierra Leonean rebels.
The specific counts against Mr. Taylor are:
• Five counts of war crimes: terrorizing civilians, murder, outrages on personal dignity, cruel treatment, and looting;
• Five counts of crimes against humanity: murder, rape, sexual slavery, mutilating and beating, and enslavement; and
• One count of other serious violations of international humanitarian law: recruiting and using child soldiers.
Again, much more information can be found on this site. http://www.charlestaylortrial.org/trial-background/who-is-charles-taylor/#four
This is part of Mr Sesay’s account of my testimony.
“First to testify today was Ms. Farrow, who contradicted Ms. Campbell’s account about how Mr. Taylor became associated with the diamond gift. According to Ms. Farrow, it was Ms. Campbell who had informed her that Mr. Taylor sent men to deliver the diamonds to her. Ms. Campbell was excited, Ms. Farrow testified today.
“She [Ms. Campbell] said at night, some men had knocked at her door and there were two men that were sent by Charles Taylor and they had given her a huge diamond and that she was going to donate it to Mr. Mandela’s charity,” Ms. Farrow told the court.
“As I recall it, she was quite excited,” she added.
When asked by prosecutors whether Ms. Campbell had shown her the diamond, Ms. Farrow said, “No, she did not.”
When asked again a direct question as to whether she was the one who had told Ms. Campbell that the diamonds must have been from Mr. Taylor, Ms. Farrow said, “Absolutely not…Naomi Campbell said that diamonds were from Charles Taylor.”
Under cross-examination, defense lawyers tried to establish that Ms. Farrow had difficulty recollecting different things, that her testimony did not only contradict that of Ms. Campbell but also contradicts the statements made by Ms. White to prosecutors, and that as an activist involved in issues relating to Africa, such as Darfur, she had a motive of working against African leaders she perceived to be oppressing their people.
Defense counsel for Mr. Taylor, Morris Anyah, in cross-examining Ms. Farrow pointed out that while she was testifying that the gift given to Ms. Campbell was a “huge diamond,” Ms. Campbell herself who received the said gift had testified that there were “two to three small dirty-looking stones,” and that Ms. White in her statement to prosecutors had said there were about five pieces of diamonds.
In her response to these points, Ms. Farrow said, “I didn’t see the diamond or diamonds, I can only tell you what Naomi Campbell said.”
As it was, the story was strange. Not the sort of incident one is likely to forget. But if Ms. Campbell had said at the time (as her former manager has recently testified), that in the middle of the night, Charles Taylor’s men had in fact presented her with several diamonds-and they were uncut, or rough, that would have been far more strange, and my reaction would have been very different, especially as I learned more about Mr. Taylor and what was happening in Sierra Leone.
The following link is to a PDF of the Prosecution’s Second Amended Indictment from the site of the Special Court for Sierra Leone http://www.sc-sl.org/