Former “supermodel” Naomi Campbell gave evidence in the trial of former Liberian president and alleged war criminal Charles Taylor at the International Criminal Court in the Hague yesterday.
Prosecutors claim Taylor, 62, gave weapons to armed gangs in Sierra Leone in exchange for illegally mined diamonds — known as ‘blood diamonds’ — during the country’s 1992-2002 civil war.
He stands accused of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and cannibalism.
Taylor denies all charges, however. He says he has “no real experience with the diamond business”.
Prosecutors had hoped Campbell could help them to disprove this. Before providing testimony, Campbell’s former agent Carole White and actress Mia Farrow claimed Taylor gave her a bag of uncut diamonds following a charity dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela in Cape Town in 1997.
Earlier this year, in a TV interview with American station ABC, Campbell strenuously denied ever receiving the diamonds.
She changed her tune in the International Criminal Court, however. When asked about how she received the diamonds, she said:
“When I was sleeping I had a knock on my door. I opened it and two men were there and gave me a pouch and said, ‘A gift for you’.”
Inside the pouch she saw “very small, dirty looking stones” — uncut diamonds.
She continued: “At breakfast I told Miss Farrow and Miss White what had happened and one of the two said, well that’s obviously Charles Taylor, and I said, yes I guess it was.”
When questioned about what she had done with the gems, Campbell said she passed them to Jeremy Ratcliffe, then director of Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Fund and asked him to “do something good with them”.
The charity denies ever receiving the diamonds, however, whilst Ratcliffe said: “The matter is sub judice and I’m not prepared to comment.”
- Naomi Campbell tells war crimes tribunal of diamonds gift (Guardian)
- Jeremy Ratcliffe doesn’t deny receiving diamonds from Naomi Campbell (Guardian)
- Naomi Campbell, blood diamonds and a media feeding frenzy (Guardian)
- International Criminal Court
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