Belfast Telegraph

Campbell gems handed to police

The diamonds given to Naomi Campbell by former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor have been handed to police in South Africa.

Charity official Jeremy Ratcliffe, who the model gave her alleged blood diamonds to, said today he had passed them to police.

Naomi told the war crimes trial of Taylor that she had received the diamonds as a present after meeting the dictator in South Africa, but said she gave them to Ratcliffe to hand on to charity.

Naomi told the court she gave the stones to South African-based Ratcliffe in 1997 hoping they could benefit a good cause. He was director of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund at the time.

Ratcliffe said: "I took them because I thought it might well be illegal for her to take uncut diamonds out of the country."

He said Naomi had suggested the stones could benefit the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, of which he was director at the time, "but I told her I would not involve the NMCF in anything that could possibly be illegal."

A spokesman for South Africa's police special investigations unit said they could only decide whether to investigate the affair after the local diamond regulation authority examined the stones.

"They must say if they are diamonds in the first place and where they come from, and that will determine whether they are blood diamonds or not," he said.

Prosecutors in the war crimes trial had hoped Naomi would give evidence that Taylor gave her the diamonds, which would back up their allegations he traded guns to rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone in exchange for uncut diamonds - known as "blood diamonds" for their role in financing conflicts.

Taylor denies all allegations.

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