Thursday, August 5, 2010

The curious case of Naomi Campbell and the blood diamond

Naomi Campbell testifies before the war crimes tribunal in The Netherlands
Naomi Campbell, originally uploaded by ICU81MI.

British supermodel Naomi Campbell is reported to have told a war crimes tribunal on Thursday that she had received some ‘dirty-looking stones’ after a 1997 dinner party with former Liberian ruler Charles Taylor and that she didn’t know if the stones were diamonds. Campbell has been trying to avoid testifying for months in what is labeled as ‘blood diamonds’ case, the illegally mined gems used to pay for war expenses, a case being heard before the special court the Special Court for Sierra Leone, hearing the case against Charles Taylor. The prosecutors hoped Campbell would provide evidence that Taylor traded guns to Sierra Leone rebels in of uncut diamonds during the civil war in Sierra Leone during 1992-2002.

The former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor, who was heavily involved with the civil war in Sierra Leone, was originally charged with war crimes in 2003, but he was given asylum in Nigeria after he fled from Liberia. In March 2006, Taylor fled from house arrest in Nigeria and was arrested at the border in a car full of cash. Taylor was then extradited to Special Court for Sierra Leone on the request to this effect by the Liberian Government. United Nations Security Council resolution 1688 of 17 June 2006 allowed the Special Court to transfer Taylor's case to The Netherlands.

In 2010 American actress Mia Farrow stated that Campbell had told her she had been given a large, uncut blood diamond by Charles Taylor while the three were 'overnight guests' of Nelson Mandela in South Africa in 1997. On July 1, 2010, Campbell was summoned by the war crimes trial against Charles Taylor at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam to give evidence on receiving a ‘blood diamond’.

Campbell appeared as scheduled as a witness for the prosecution on August 5, 2010. Campbell said that she gave the stones to Jeremy Ratcliffe of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, but the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund stated in a letter to the court that it had ‘never received a diamond or diamonds from Ms. Campbell or from anyone else’. It seems the whereabouts of the blood diamond is not known now!

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