*Naomi Campbell finally took the stand Thursday, telling a war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands that she received some “dirty-looking stones” after a dinner with former Liberian ruler CharlesTaylor, but stopping short of saying they were diamonds or that she was given the gift by Taylor himself. [View court testimony below.]
Campbell was being questioned in Taylor’s war crimes trial about claims made by actress Mia Farrow that Taylor gave the model an uncut diamond or diamonds after a dinner party hosted by Nelson Mandela that they all attended in South Africa in 1997.
Prosecutors say, if true, the story would provide evidence that Taylor traded guns to neighboring Sierra Leone rebels in exchange for uncut diamonds — a.k.a. “blood diamonds” during that country’s 1992-2002 civil war.
According to the Associated Press, the supermodel testified Thursday she was awakened in the middle of the night after the September 1997 dinner party by two black men at her door. She said they offered her a pouch they said was a gift for her with no further explanation. She said she frequently receives gifts from admirers and didn’t look at it until the following morning.
“I saw a few stones in there. And they were small dirty-looking stones,” she testified.
She said, at breakfast the following day, either Farrow or Campbell’s former agent Carole White had told her the rocks must be diamonds and were probably a gift from Taylor. Campbell said she then gave them to a friend, Jeremy Ratcliffe, who at the time was the director of Mandela’s children’s charity.
The supermodel, who had fought hard to avoid testifying, arrived at the courthouse in Leidschendam surrounded by a police escort. In contrast to her usual edgy fashion style, she wore a demure cream two-piece outfit and her hair was piled up into a classic chignon.
Entering the courtroom late — several minutes after she was first summoned to take the stand — Campbell was calm and composed as she quickly answered questions from prosecutor Brenda Hollis.
“I didn’t really want to be here,” she said. “I just want to get this over with and get on with my life.”
Defense attorney Courtenay Griffiths got Campbell to testify that alternate versions of the event given to prosecutors by Farrow and White were wrong. He said White has suggested Campbell was seated next to Taylor at the dinner and flirted with him. White is currently in a legal dispute with Campbell.
“This is a woman who has a power motive to lie about you?” Courtenay asked.
“Correct,” Campbell answered, with a slight smile. She said she sat between Mandela, who she idolized, and music producer Quincy Jones.
Campbell had declined to cooperate with prosecutors until judges last month ordered her to appear or face a maximum sentence of seven years for contempt. Hollis, the prosecutor, asked why Campbell had been so reluctant to appear before the war crimes tribunal.
“This is someone that I read up on the Internet that killed thousands of people supposedly and I don’t want my family in any danger in any way,” Campbell said.
Griffiths angrily objected that was “totally irrelevant” to her testimony.