Jan 14, 2010
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Liberia's Taylor gave Naomi Campbell a blood diamond

Jan 14, 2010

THE HAGUE, Jan 14, 2010 (AFP) - Liberia's ex-president Charles Taylor gave a so-called blood diamond to supermodel Naomi Campbell after a 1997 dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela, the prosecution in his war crimes trial charged Thursday 14 January.

Naomi Campbell - Photo : Timothy A. Clary/AFP

The diamond was among those Taylor had obtained from Sierra Leone rebels and took to South Africa "to sell .. or exchange them from weapons," prosecutor Brenda Hollis asserted in cross-examining Taylor.

"From among those diamonds that you took to South Africa, after this dinner that you attended you sent your men to Ms Campbell's room to provide her with a large ... diamond," she said.

"That is totally incorrect," Taylor responded.

"That diamond that you sent to Naomi Campbell was one of the diamonds that you had been given by the junta in Sierra Leone."

"Total nonsense."

Hollis said the alleged gift was made after a dinner hosted by South Africa's then-president Mandela in September 1997, which was attended by celebrities like singer Quincy Jones and actress Mia Farrow.

Campbell told Farrow of the diamond the following morning, according to the prosecution. The actress is listed as a witness in Taylor's trial.

Taylor, 61, has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming from the brutal 1991-2001 civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

These include charges of murder, rape, conscripting child soldiers, enslavement and pillaging.

He has been on trial since January 2008, accused of having fuelled war in Sierra Leone by arming the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in exchange for "blood diamonds".

Sometimes referred to as conflict diamonds, blood diamonds is the name given to diamonds mined in rebel-held regions of Africa used to fund war.

The RUF is blamed for the mutilation of thousands of civilians who had their hands and arms severed in one of the most brutal wars in modern history, which claimed some 120,000 lives.

Taylor took the stand in his own defence last July, and completed his evidence in November.

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