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'Knock at my door and I was given bag of stones'

Supermodel Naomi Campbell told the war crimes trial of Charles Taylor today that she was woken in the night and given a pouch containing "small, dirty-looking stones" after a charity dinner.

Giving evidence to the trial in The Hague, Campbell said she met Taylor for the first time during a meal in September 1997.

She told the court that two men knocked on her door in the middle of night as she stayed at the home of former South African president Nelson Mandela and presented her with a pouch containing gems.

"They were very small, dirty looking stones," she said.

The model told the court she discussed the incident with fellow guests the next morning and was told: "That's obviously Charles Taylor."

Campbell is said to have received a 'blood diamond' from Taylor, who faces charges including criminal responsibility for murder, rape, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers.

The 40-year-old model from London refused to take part in the trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague until she was issued with a subpoena.



blood

She arrived at the courthouse in The Hague surrounded by police officers. She did not speak to reporters outside.

Asked what she thought the gift was, she said: "They were dirty-looking pebbles. I'm used to seeing diamonds, shiny and in a box."

She told the court that the men had knocked on her door and said: "There's a gift for you."

She said there were "maybe two or three" stones.

Campbell said she was told the stones were "probably" diamonds but did not know for sure

She said she "assumed" they were a gift from Taylor.

"I didn't know anything about Charles Taylor," she said.

"I had never heard of him before, never heard of Liberia before, never heard of the term 'blood diamonds' before, so I just assumed it was [a gift]."

She said she did not know who presented the gift.

"I didn't know if it was staff of the house," she said. "I didn't know where they came from."

The model added that she had not wanted to attend the hearing and described it as an "inconvenience".

"I don't want to be here. I was made to be here. This is an inconvenience to me," she said.

She was reluctant to attend because she wanted to protect her family, she said.

Despite believing the stones were a gift from Taylor, Campbell had no intention of thanking him.

She said: "I had no way of contacting him and I had no intention of contacting him."

Campbell said she had "read up" on Taylor using the internet and learned that he had supposedly "killed thousands of people".

"I don't want my family in danger in any way," she said.

Hands

She said she had given the stones to a colleague and added: "Once I handed them over... it was out of my hands."

Campbell said the stones were "very small" but could not offer any further detailed explanation of them.

"I'm not a diamonds expert but they were very small," she said.

hnews@herald.ie


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