Supermodel Naomi Campbell has told the war crimes tribunal of ex-Liberia President Charles Taylor that she was given a few “dirty-looking” stones.

Ms Campbell is being asked about allegations that Mr Taylor gave her “blood diamonds” as a gift in 1997.

Prosecutors in The Hague say her evidence could help link Mr Taylor to the stones, which they say he used to fund the civil war in Sierra Leone.

He denies the charges and says he never sold or traded diamonds for weapons.

Ms Campbell, who was late appearing in the courtroom, swore on a Bible before beginning her testimony.

Celebrity dinner

Ms Campbell said she was given two or three stones after a celebrity dinner in South Africa, hosted by former South African President Nelson Mandela and attended by US actress Mia Farrow and others.

She said she was sleeping in her room when there was a knock at the door.

“Two men were there and gave me a pouch and said: ‘A gift for you’,” she said.

The men did not introduce themselves. She said she put the pouch next to her bed without looking inside it, and went back to sleep.

“I opened the pouch the next morning when I woke up… I saw a few stones in there, they were very small dirty-looking stones,” she told the court. There was no explanation and no note, she said.

“The next morning at breakfast I told Ms Farrow and [her former agent Carol White] what had happened and one of the two said ‘That’s obviously Charles Taylor’, and I said ‘I guess that was’.”

She said she gave the stones to Jeremy Ratcliffe of the Nelson Mandela children’s fund.

The prosecutor said Ms Campbell was answering questions before they were finished, and asked her if she was nervous.

“No, well, I didn’t really want to be here. I was made to be here,” she answered.

“So obviously I’m just like wanting to get this over with and get on with my life. This is a big inconvenience for me.”

She said she had previously denied having the stones as she feared for her family because Mr Taylor was “someone I read on the internet has killed thousands of people, supposedly”.

Allegations that the rough, uncut gemstones were given to Ms Campbell emerged in a statement by Mia Farrow.

So-called blood diamonds are stones mined in areas controlled by rebel armies, and used to fund their violence.

Ms Campbell is a reluctant witness and has been subpoenaed to appear by prosecutors or risk contempt of court charges.

In April, she told ABC news in the US that she “never received a diamond” from Mr Taylor and did not want want to talk about it. Later, she told US talk show host Oprah Winfrey that she did not want to be involved in Mr Taylor’s case and feared for her safety if she were.

Her management company later released a statement confirming she would attend “to help clarify events in 1997”.

Ms Campbell has obtained a court order banning the media from showing images of her within the confines of the court building.

War crimes

Mr Taylor, 62, is suspected of selling diamonds to buy weapons for Sierra Leone’s RUF rebels, who were notorious for hacking off the hands and legs of civilians during the 1991-2001 civil war.

The trial is in the defence phase, with only a few witnesses remaining to testify. The prosecution rested in February 2009 after calling 91 witnesses, but obtained special permission to re-open their case to present new evidence.

Prosecutors say that from his seat of power in Liberia, Mr Taylor also trained and commanded the rebels.

He was arrested in 2006 and his trial at The Hague opened in 2007.

Mr Taylor has pleaded not guilty to 11 charges, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, at the UN-backed tribunal.

Tens of thousands of people died in the interlinked conflicts in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Source: BBC

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.