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Taylor's lawyer accuses Campbell's former agent of lying

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Taylor's lawyer: Carole White a liar
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Charles Taylor's attorney accuses Naomi Campbell's former agent of lying
  • Carole White disputed Campbell's testimony from last week
  • She said Campbell knew that the diamonds given to her in 1997 were from Taylor
  • White denies her testimony has anything to do with a separate lawsuit

(CNN) -- The attorney for former Liberian President Charles Taylor accused the former agent for supermodel Naomi Campbell of lying in her testimony at an international court Tuesday.

Courtenay Griffiths said Carole White's account of Campbell receiving "blood diamonds" from Taylor's men was "a complete pack of lies."

White has been testifying at the war crimes trial of Taylor, who prosecutors allege funded a brutal civil war in Sierra Leone using so-called blood diamonds, or those that have been mined in conflict zones and used to fund the fighting.

White was with Campbell for a dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela in South Africa in 1997, which Taylor also attended.

At the end of the dinner and before the guests returned to the presidential guest lodge, White said she heard a discussion about getting diamonds to Campbell later that night. Taylor was present for "at least part" of the discussion, she said.

Farrow: Campbell said diamond was from Taylor

Late that night, before she or Campbell had gone to bed, White said men in suits threw pebbles at her second-floor window to get her attention. They said they had a gift for Campbell.

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She said she went to Campbell's room and told her, but Griffiths disputed her account.

"I suggest you're a liar," he told White in court. "And I suggest that this account of what happened that night is a complete fabrication."

Continuing the story, White said she and Campbell went downstairs and opened the doors of the guest lodge to let the men in.

"I think she was quite excited that, finally, these diamonds had arrived," White said of Campbell.

Q&A: Africa's 'blood' diamond shame

The supermodel testified last week that two men knocked on her door while she was sleeping and gave her a pouch, saying it was a gift. She said she opened the pouch the next morning to find "dirty-looking stones" that turned out to be diamonds.

White testified Tuesday, however, that that account didn't make sense, because the men needed access through the main lodge door before knocking at a guest's room, and there had been no one else downstairs to let them in.

It was 1 or 2 a.m. and no staff or guards were downstairs in the guest lodge, she said.

Griffiths asked White whether she told her famous client that she shouldn't have accepted a gift from two strange men in the middle of the night. White said she didn't do that until the morning.

Naomi Campbell's friend turns over diamonds to police

"When I woke up in the morning, I thought about it and decided that I definitely knew it was very illegal to take diamonds out of South Africa," she said. "I don't know how I knew that, but I knew it, and so I had a conversation with Naomi -- most likely in her bedroom because I would have been getting her up -- and I told her that I didn't think that those diamonds should go out of South Africa."

White said she suggested Campbell give the diamonds to a charity.

Campbell testified last week that she did not know the diamonds were from Taylor. She said she passed the stones to a friend, Jeremy Ratcliffe, a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund. She said she asked him to use the stones in a charity auction to raise money for underprivileged children.

The Nelson Mandela Children's Fund denied last week that it had ever received diamonds from Campbell. A police official testified Friday that Ratcliffe had given the diamonds to South African police hours after Campbell testified about them.

Taylor, 62, was president of Liberia from 1997 to 2003. The war crimes charges against him stem from the widespread murder, rape and mutilation that occurred during the civil war in Sierra Leone, fought largely by teenagers who were forced to kill, given addictive drugs to provoke violent behavior and were often instructed to rape and plunder.

Naomi Campbell testifies at Taylor war crimes trial

The trial is taking place at the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, at The Hague, Netherlands.

Taylor is charged with five counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, enslavement and sexual slavery and violence. He also faces five counts of war crimes, including acts of terrorism and torture, and one count of other serious violations of international humanitarian law.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors had rested their case against Taylor in February 2009 but reopened it to call Campbell to testify after learning Taylor had given the supermodel a diamond.

When arguing to reopen the case, prosecutors said Campbell's testimony would prove that the former president "used rough diamonds for personal enrichment and arms purchases," according to papers filed with the U.N.-backed court.

Taylor has testified that he never handled the precious stones.

The men who dropped off the diamonds to Campbell never said they represented Taylor, White testified, but Campbell was clear about who they had come from, White said.

When she met with Ratcliffe, Campbell told him she had received the diamonds from Charles Taylor, White testified.

Actress Mia Farrow testified Monday that Campbell named Taylor as the person who gave her a diamond. At breakfast the next morning, Farrow said, Campbell told her the men had been sent by Charles Taylor and had given her a "huge diamond."

It was unclear why Farrow spoke of a single diamond and Campbell testified about several smaller ones.

Griffiths summed up his questioning Tuesday with an attack on White's testimony.

"Quite frankly, Mrs. White, I suggest that your account is a complete pack of lies, and you've made it up in order to assist in your lawsuit against Ms. Campbell," he said. "Put bluntly, for you this is all about money, there ain't nothing funny. I have no further questions."

One of the judges then told a stunned White that she must respond, even though Griffiths had not prompted her.

"I can categorically tell your honor it's not a lie," White said. "This happened. I have told people after the journey in '97 -- people that I trusted -- this story, because it was quite funny at the time, although it's not so funny now.

"It's totally the truth. It has nothing whatsoever to do with my business argument with Naomi Campbell, and I don't really see the relevance of the gentleman's argument. But this is not about money, this is about a very serious matter, and I am telling the truth."

Griffiths said in court last week that White launched a lawsuit against Campbell in October for breach of contract.

 
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