Supermodel Naomi Campbell assumed the “dirty-looking stones” were from Charles Taylor

Naomi Campbell

Ms. Campbell and Taylor among other guests present at the dinner in 1997

Ms. Campbell and Taylor among other guests present at the dinner in 1997

The model was subpoenaed to testify whether or not she received rough diamonds from the former Liberian president in 1997. Charles Taylor is being tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity before a SCSL courtroom in The Hague. In her testimony, Ms. Campbell did not make a clear link between the diamonds and Taylor.

The trial started after Ms. Campbell entered the courtroom a few minutes later than expected. The prosecutor began questioning Ms. Campbell, who gave  short answers and kept cutting the prosecutor’s questions short with quick responses. When asked by the Prosecutor whether this was a result of her nervousness, she replied that she was made to come to testify. It had inconvenienced her, she was concerned about the safety of her family, and she wanted to get it over with.
Ms. Campbell testified that she had been in South Africa for the inauguration of the Blue Train to raise funds and awareness for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation (NMCF), of which she was an Ambassador. At a dinner hosted by former South African President Mandela, she met Taylor for the first time, during which they briefly talked about his country Liberia of which she had never heard before.
Never saying a word to him after dinner, she went to her room and was awoken in the middle of the night by two men who knocked on her door and handed her a pouch saying, “a gift for you.” She opened the pouch the next morning and saw “dirty looking stones.” At breakfast with her former model agent Carol White and actress Mia Farrow, she told them about the gift she had been given the previous night. They suggested that the stones were diamonds and that they must have been from Taylor. Ms. Campbell then simply assumed they were indeed from Taylor. Since she was in South Africa to raise funds for charity, she thought it would be improper to keep the diamonds so she gave them to her friend Jeremy Ractliffe, then head of the NMCF, to use for a good cause. Mr. Ractliffe has admitted that he received the diamonds from Ms. Campbell.
Ms. Campbell may not have provided a satisfactory testimony for the prosecution,  but her subpoena and subsequent testimony has put the Taylor trial in the spotlight like never before.

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