Supermodel Naomi Campbell has been granted her request for increased security when she testifies at an ongoing war crimes trial against former Liberian president Charles Taylor this week. Campbell is set to take to the witness stand in the high-profile case over claims she accepted a blood diamond from Taylor as a gift at a party in 1997.
In a letter sent to the United Nations special court for Sierra Leone, her legal representative, Lord Macdonald, requested special "protective measures" for his client when she flies to Holland to give testimony. On Tuesday, August 3, war crimes judges granted a series of special security measures, including barring photographers from snapping Campbell entering or leaving the courtroom.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone has also instructed authorities to ensure that no one photograph, video tape or sketch Campbell in or around the courtroom, although her testimony will be recorded as usual by courtroom cameras. In addition, the court granted Campbell's request to have a lawyer present, but restricted the attorney from speaking on her behalf to protect her from possible self-incrimination on the stand.
Campbell had also asked the judges for a gag order on all information "gleaned about her stay at the court" apart from her public testimony. The court did not grant that request.
Campbell has previously voiced her fears for her own safety and that of her family if she appears as a witness and testifies against Taylor, who has pleaded not guilty to 11 charges, including murder, torture, rape, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers and terrorism during Sierra Leone's 1991-2002 civil war. Judges noted Campbell's fears are legitimate due to her celebrity and intense media interest in her appearance, reports the Associated Press.
Campbell is due to testify in The Hague on Thursday, August 5, but judges have yet to decide on a motion submitted by Taylor's lawyers last week asking to delay her appearance.