Thursday, August 5, 2010

Naomi Campbell’s Blood Diamond Trial

From eonline

For someone who craves the spotlight, Naomi Campbell wishes she were anywhere but here.

The British supermodel, who's never seen a camera she didn't like, was a reluctant witness under heavy security (check that cell phone at the door!) today in The Hague at the war crimes tribunal of Charles Taylor as she recounted how the former Liberian leader once sent her a gift of what she called "dirty stones"—what turned out to be so-called blood diamonds.
"I did not want to be here," she said. "I just want to get this over with and get on with my life, this is a big inconvenience for me."
We're sorry, Naomi, that the prosecution of a war criminal accused of killing thousands of innocents has gotten in the way of your busy schedule.
Campbell, one of the world's highest paid models, for a short time became the star of her own real-life Blood Diamond drama, only with Mia Farrow, not Leonardo DiCaprio, at her side.
Her testimony is considered vital to showing how Taylor, in return for the uncut gems, offered weapons training to neighboring Sierra Leone rebels, who subsequently slaughtered thousands of civilians during Sierra Leone's bloody 10-year civil war that ended in 2002.
Campbell was called by the prosecution because she once received a gift of said stones from the dictator at a 1997 dinner on behalf of Nelson Mandela's Children's Fund that was also attended by Farrow.
"When I was sleeping I had a knock on my door. I opened my door and two men were there and gave me a pouch and said, 'A gift for you,' " she testified, recalling how members of the ruler's entourage paid a late night visit to her hotel room to deliver them.
While the men didn't say they worked for Taylor, the 40-year-old catwalker remembered telling Farrow, who was also a guest at the event, that she "assumed it was."
"I opened the pouch the next morning when I woke up. I saw a few stones. They were very small, dirty looking stones. I assumed it was [from him]," Campbell told the court. "I don't know anything about Charles Taylor. Never heard of him before, never heard of the country Liberia before. I never heard of the term 'blood diamonds' before."
The fiery fashionista said she didn't think much of the souvenir at the time because she admitted she's frequently spoiled with such extravagances.
"I get gifts given to me all the time, at all hours of the night," she told the court. "Sometimes without notes. It is quite normal for me to receive gifts."
Rough life.
She said she gave the diamonds to a colleague and asked him to donate them to charity—in this case Mandela's Children's Fund. But it turns out her friend held on to the stones as documents from the charity showed it never received them and that she only made cash donations.
Campbell insisted she never contacted the Liberian leader, nor had any intention.
Farrow is expected to take the stand next week and relate how Campbell told her the next morning at breakfast about the blood diamond tale.
Campbell initially resisted having to testify against Taylor, citing safety fears, even saying back in April that she "never received" the stones. But after being served a subpoena (thus facing possible prison time if she refused to talk), the model did a 180.
"This is someone who, I read on the Internet, has killed thousands of people. I don't want my family endangered in any way," she testified.
Campbell didn't appear particularly nervous during her time before the tribunal.
ecurity was incredibly tight, with the judge panel taking the unusual precaution of ordering authorities to ensure that no photography, videotaping or sketching be done as she entered or exited the courtroom. (However, her entire testimony was recorded and made public.)
The 62-year-old Taylor has categorically denied ever being involved in the blood diamond trade to help fuel the insurgency.

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