Naomi Campbell tells court of "dirty pebbles"

Thu Aug 5, 2010 1:10pm EDT
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By Aaron Gray-Block and Reed Stevenson

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Supermodel Naomi Campbell, testifying reluctantly at a war crimes trial, said on Thursday she was given "dirty looking pebbles" but did not know if they were blood diamonds from former Liberian ruler Charles Taylor.

Complaining that having to appear at the court in The Hague was an "inconvenience," Campbell said two unidentified men came to her bedroom after she attended a charity dinner with Taylor and then-South African President Nelson Mandela in 1997.

"I was sleeping and had a knock at the door that woke me up. Two men were there and they gave me a pouch and said: 'A gift for you'," she told the U.N. Special Court for Sierra Leone.

"I went back to bed. I looked into the pouch the next morning," the British model said. "I saw a few stones, they were very small, dirty looking stones."

"I'm used to seeing diamonds shiny and in a box ... If someone had not said they were diamonds, I would not have known they were diamonds," she said.

Prosecutors summoned Campbell to support their allegations that Taylor received so-called blood diamonds from rebels in Sierra Leone and used them to buy weapons during his 1997 trip to South Africa. Taylor denied the allegations as "nonsense."

He is charged with 11 counts of instigating murder, rape, mutilation, sexual slavery and conscription of child soldiers during wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone in which more than 250,000 people were killed. He denies all the charges.

Campbell initially refused to testify and told the judges she feared for her family's safety after reading on the Internet about Taylor's alleged involvement in mass killings.   Continued...