Naomi Campbell Testifies: Accused Warlord Gave Her Blood Diamonds

Aug 6, 2010
Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart.
Naomi Campbell might want to wear rubies instead of diamonds from now on. (Photo: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters)

These weren't just any stones. They were blood diamonds given to the model in 1997 at the height of Sierra Leone's civil war.

Diamonds like the ones given by Taylor to Campbell are believed to have financed the brutal war.

On Thursday, Campbell finally took the stand in the ongoing case against Taylor.

The warlord is on trial for 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Taylor is thought to have supported rebels in Sierra Leone in exchange for diamonds and other resources. Charges against him include involvement in the murder, rape and mutilation of civilians and the forced enlistment of child soldiers. 

In Campbell's testimony, she claimed to have received a pouch filled with diamonds in the middle of the night.

At the time, she says she didn’t know who Taylor was. “I never heard of him before, never heard of the country Liberia before.” She added: “I never heard of the term 'blood diamonds' before.”

The importance of Campbell’s testimony For the court is not her involvement with Taylor.

Reported in TIME: 

The key question was whether the diamonds were linked to Taylor, and whether Taylor used diamonds to fund Sierra Leone's civil war. The former president, 63, has dismissed the story as "totally incorrect" and has vehemently denied ever selling or trading diamonds to buy weapons for rebels in Sierra Leone.

Diamonds aren’t the only conflict resources smuggled out of war zones. Minerals used in cell phones—tungsten, tin, gold and tantalum—are also causes of conflict in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

These minerals often end up in industrial nations' electronics, including cellphones and computers.

Last month, headway was made in the fight against conflict minerals. President Obama signed the Wall Street reform bill requiring American firms to disclose whether their products contain minerals from Congo or nearby countries. 

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