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Naomi gets protection for blood diamond trial

Renowned model Naomi Campbell has been granted special protection when she testifies at a UN war crimes tribunal on Thursday over claims that she was given a blood diamond by Liberia's former president Charles Taylor.

The court ruled that no one may photograph or film the supermodel as she enters or exits the court building, or while she is in it. She will also have a lawyer on hand to make sure she does not say anything incriminating.

Judges said there were legitimate grounds of concern for Campbell's security and privacy because of her high public profile and the intense media scrutiny of her anticipated testimony.

A spokesman for the court in The Hague could not say definitively if this would prevent the model from being photographed by journalists on her way to the court. A request that restrictions be extended to her transit to and from court within the Netherlands was turned down as being outside the court's jurisdiction.

Measures to protect witnesses in war crimes cases are routine, especially when disclosure of their identity could endanger them or their families. Such witnesses testify under pseudonyms and with their images blurred in recordings of their testimony. But blocking the media from photographing a known witness is unusual.

The court said it was in the interests of justice to allow the supermodel extra help during her testimony from a lawyer with a limited right to intervene on whether to allow questions if she might incriminate herself by answering them.

She is due to appear on Thursday, but the court has not yet ruled on a motion submitted last week by Taylor's lawyers to delay her appearance.

The prosecution called Campbell to testify after the actor Mia Farrow claimed the supermodel had told her that she had been given a rough diamond by Taylor in September 1997 while a guest of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

Farrow told prosecutors Campbell told her that she had been awakened in the night by knocking at her door. She opened the door to find two or three men - I do not recall how many - who presented her with a large diamond, which they said was from Charles Taylor.

Taylor, 62, is accused of arming and controlling Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front, a rebel force responsible for widespread atrocities.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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