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Campbell accused in diamonds trial

Prosecutors have been accused of scoring a "spectacular own goal" after calling supermodel Naomi Campbell as a witness in the war crimes trial of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor.

The 40-year-old from Streatham, south London, admitted receiving "dirty-looking pebbles" from two men in the middle of the night after a party hosted by Nelson Mandela in South Africa in September 1997.

But she claimed she was never told who the gift was from, contradicting the accounts of her former agent Carole White, and actress Mia Farrow.

Campbell was forced to come to the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, Holland, after prosecutors issued a subpoena.

They were hoping Campbell's evidence would provide a link between Taylor, 62, and so-called "blood diamonds", which he is said to have received from Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF).

He is accused of arming and controlling the rebels, using diamonds to buy weapons which he allegedly shipped from Burkina Faso.

Under questioning from prosecutor Brenda Hollis, Campbell told the court she was sleeping after the party when she heard a knock on the door. Two men handed her a small pouch, saying "a gift for you", before leaving without further explanation. She did not open the pouch until the next morning and even then was not sure what was inside.

Campbell said she gave the stones to Jeremy Ratcliffe, who was then the head of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.

The court heard the charity has no record of any such gift but Campbell said she understood Mr Ratcliffe was still in possession of the stones. The model insisted she had wanted them to be donated to charity but said: "He still has them so they didn't benefit."

In a statement today, the charity said it had been unable to locate their former head.


From Belfast Telegraph