At a glittering dinner party 13 years ago, prosecutors allege, supermodel Naomi Campbell was given a bag of rough diamonds from Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, now on trial for war crimes. She made her long-awaited appearance at the trial and admitted receiving the bag of "very small, dirty-looking stones."
Prosecutors at The Hague hope to prove that Taylor received rough diamonds from Sierra Leone in exchange for weapons that helped fuel that country's brutal civil war. He denies that he ever handled the gems.
Guests—like Mia Farrow and Campbell's former agent Carole White—who attended the dinner party at a presidential guesthouse in Pretoria to honor Nelson Mandela had alleged that Campbell was flirting with Taylor, and that he promised to give her a rough diamond.
Campbell, not noted for her grace under pressure, had forcefully dodged questions on the topic. She had even stormed out of an ABC interview. Today, having finally been subpoenaed to appear, she admitted that after the dinner she went to her room to go to sleep and heard a knock on her door. Two men, who she presumed were sent by Taylor, presented her with a pouch. "A gift for you," one of them said. Inside the pouch, she testified, were "very small, dirty-looking stones." According to The New York Times, Campbell later described them as "pebbles."
Campbell told the trial that she subsequently gave the jewels to a friend who worked for a charity and told him to "do something good with them." The charity, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, denies receiving the diamonds. She also said tales that she'd been flirting with Taylor were lies. Her claims will be put to the test when Mia Farrow and Carole White testify later in the trial.