Monday, August 9, 2010

Charles Taylor 'gave Naomi Campbell diamonds'

Carole White's testimony took most of the afternoon

Source: BBC

Ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor gave Naomi Campbell diamonds after a 1997 dinner in South Africa, the supermodel's former agent Carole White has told Mr Taylor's war-crimes trial.

She said Mr Taylor had promised the model the diamonds during the meal.

The account contradicts evidence given by Ms Campbell, who said she did not know who had given her the gems.

Prosecutors say Mr Taylor traded with rebels in Sierra Leone, giving them weapons in return for diamonds.

Tens of thousands of people died in interlinked conflicts in Sierra Leone and Liberia in the 1980s and 1990s.

Charles Taylor

Mr Taylor denies 11 charges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, sitting in The Hague, and he has denied having anything to do with the trade in so-called blood diamonds.

According to Ms White, Mr Taylor and Ms Campbell had been "mildly flirtatious" with each other at the 1997 dinner in South Africa, hosted by Nelson Mandela who was the country's president at the time.

Mr Taylor told the supermodel during dinner that he would send some men to give her diamonds, Ms White told the hearing.

"We were sitting around this lounge area at about 10 o'clock at night and we were waiting for these men to arrive," Ms White said.

"She was in communication with them by phone - most likely by text. Someone was informing her that the car was nearly there."

'Surprise gift'

Ms White said Ms Campbell was "very excited" about the diamonds.

"The guys came in and they sat down in the lounge and we sat opposite them... they then took out a quite scruffy paper and they handed it to Miss Campbell and said 'these are the diamonds'," she said.

'Blood diamonds'

• Rough diamonds used by rebel groups to finance wars against governments

• Fuelled conflicts in countries such as Angola, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and DR Congo

• The 2003 Kimberley Process requires its 49 members, who represent 75 countries, to certify shipments of rough diamonds as "conflict-free"

• Critics question the system, saying countries with the worst wars have weak internal controls

"She opened them and showed them to me. They were quite disappointing because they weren't shiny."

Earlier on Monday, US actress Mia Farrow, who was at the dinner, had also testified that Ms Campbell had been excited by the gift.

Last week, Ms Campbell told the hearing that two men had come into her room in the middle of the night and given her a pouch of stones, and that she did not know who had given her the gift.

She told the court she had given the stones to Jeremy Ractliffe of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund the next morning because she wanted them to go to charity.

Mr Ractliffe has now handed the gems to police, and on Sunday they confirmed that the stones were real diamonds.

Mr Taylor, 62, was arrested in 2006 and his trial in opened in 2007.

The former warlord is accused of arming Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels during the 1991-2002 civil war - a charge he denies.

Prosecutors say that from his seat of power in Liberia, Mr Taylor also trained and commanded the rebels who murdered, raped and maimed Sierra Leone civilians, frequently hacking off their hands and legs.

The Sierra Leone war became notorious for the widespread use of child soldiers.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

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Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah



Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah

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