Woman Up Editor
Charles Taylor, the ousted leader of Liberia
, is on trial at the Hague International Tribunal for his role in the civil war in Sierra Leone. The Special Court for Sierra Leone alleges that he helped allies fight the conflict in return for so-called "blood diamonds" hauled out of his neighboring nation's countryside.
Soon after he was elected president of the small African coastal nation in 1997, Taylor attended a dinner at the South Africa home of then-President Nelson Mandela. Other guests at the event included high-strung
super model Naomi Campbell
and the actress/humanitarian Mia Farrow
. Thursday, Campbell testified to the international court that after the dinner she was awakened in the guest wing of Mandela's quarters by two men she thought may have been "house staff." With the explanation of "a gift for you," they handed her a pouch containing several "small, dirty-looking stones."
In recounting the visit to Farrow and others at breakfast the next day, Campbell concluded the gift probably came from Taylor and was indeed diamonds ("When I'm used to seeing diamonds, I'm used to seeing them shiny and in a box," she told the court). She did not find her nocturnal call strange however, telling the judge, "It's not abnormal for me to get gifts; I get gifts all the time."
As Taylor has insisted the allegations are false, connecting him to the raw gems could be significant evidence, but Campbell has been reluctant to testify. The New York Times reports she was not anxious to pick a fight with the man she came to understand had been accused of killing thousands of people
. "I don't want my family in danger in any way," she testified.
Before leaving South Africa she handed the pouch off to a friend who worked with Mandela's charitable children's fund.
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