Mia Farrow contradicts Campbell over diamond
Testifies that Campbell knew it was sent by Liberian leaderLONDON -- It's an unlikely setting for Hollywood A-listers and celebrity supermodels, but contradictory testimonies from Mia Farrow and Naomi Campbell over the gift of so-called "blood diamonds" has put the International Tribunal at the Hague in the media spotlight.
The case -- a messy ending to what can happen when the world of showbiz waltzes unwarily into the complex tribalism of African politics -- could prove a salutary warning to celebrities dazzled by the chance to associate themselves with humanitarian causes.
Farrow, a longtime human rights activist who last year held a much-publicized 12-day hunger strike to highlight the plight of the humanitarian refugee disaster in Sudan, gave damning evidence Monday in the trial against former Liberian president Charles Taylor.
Taylor is on trial accused of causing the deaths of over 120,000 men, women and children in the Sierra Leone civil war in 2001 -- a campaign of terror and mutilation thought to have been financed by illegally-mined diamonds.
He claims to have no knowledge of any such stones.
But the star of "Rosemary's Baby" and "Hannah and Her Sisters" told the War Crimes court that the morning after a dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela in 1997, Campbell had told her she had been given "a huge diamond" from the Liberian leader.
Farrow's testimony directly contradicted the supermodel's own testimony last week, when the British born Campbell told the court that she had received some "dirty looking stones" from two men in the middle of the night and did not know who they were from.
Campbell is thought to have met the Liberian leader at the dinner, which was also attended by Quincy Jones, Imran Khan and Tony Leung.
"Naomi Campbell entered the room where my children and I were already eating breakfast," Farrow told the court Monday. "As I recall it, she was quite excited and said, in effect, 'oh my god, in the middle of night I was awakened by knocking at the door. It was men sent by Charles Taylor and he sent me,' as I recall, 'a huge diamond.' "
It remains unclear why the issue of the alleged gift has taken on such significance. But it has certainly left the inadvertent protagonists looking wounded.
In her testimony last week, Campbell appeared a reluctant -- even truculent -- witness, who seemed to want nothing more than to distance herself from a military event in which she seemed to have little knowledge or interest.
"They looked like dirty little pebbles," she said of the gift. "I am used to seeing diamonds shining in a box. That's the diamonds I am used to seeing," she said, unwittingly underlining the gulf between the world of celebrity gifts and the world of diamond manufacture.
"I'm wanting to get this over with and get on with my life. This is a big inconvenience for me," Campbell said.
But beneath her petulance, the British-born model -- dressed in cream Azzadeine Alleiya -- betrayed a genuine anxiety.
She was an unwilling participant in the trial because she was "scared of what might happen to my family," she said.
For her own part, the redoubtable Farrow emerges as a far savvier witness -- but looks nonetheless bruised by the experience.
Farrow described Campbell's testimony as "an unforgettable story" but was challenged by Taylor's lawyers, disputing her recollection of the dinner, the conversation, her inability to correctly recall the age of one of her children and the number of diamonds Campbell had said she was given.
The trial -- which has been running for three years – will now hear testimony from Campbell's now-estranged former personal assistant.
At times it seems to have elements of a classic Woody Allen crime caper, but despite its showbiz stardust, the War Crimes trial of this former Liberian warlord is not being played for laughs.