Far from a runway, Naomi Campbell took to the witness stand at a UN war-crimes tribunal in the Netherlands Thursday and admitted that she was given "dirty rocks" by the former Liberian ruler Charles Taylor – who, prosecutors say, swapped guns to rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone for uncut diamonds during that country's 1992-2002 civil war.
Taylor, 62, stands accuses of allegedly arming, training and commanding the rebels to kill and maim thousands of civilians across the border. He has pleaded not guilty to 11 war crimes charges, including murder, rape, sexual enslavement and recruiting child soldiers.
Campbell, 40, told the tribunal she handed the gems to a colleague and told him to "do something good with them," such as donate them to charity, but the colleague "still has them, so they didn't benefit," the British supermodel added.
Campbell had sought to avoid testifying but was subpoenaed and forced to appear. Campbell became part of the proceedings after the actress Mia Farrow claimed that Taylor had given the model an uncut diamond following a dinner party hosted by Nelson Mandela in South Africa in 1997.
Did Not Want to TestifyCampbell's refusal to appear could have resulted in a seven-year jail sentence, reports Britain's Telegraph. Farrow, 65, is expected to testify next week.
In May, Campbell told Oprah Winfrey she did not wish to be involved in Taylor's case and feared for her safety if she were – a sentiment she repeated before the tribunal on Thursday.
Campbell also said in court, "I had never heard of Charles Taylor before. I had never heard of the country Liberia before. I had never the term 'blood diamonds' before … This is someone who, I read on the Internet, has killed thousands of people. I don't want my family endangered in any way."
Of receiving the diamonds, she said two men knocked on her door late one night. "They said, 'A gift for you,' and then gave me a pouch … I took it, said, 'Thank you,' and closed the door. There was no explanation, no note. When they gave me the pouch I just put it close to my bed and went back to bed."
The next morning, she said, "I opened the pouch … I saw a few stones. They were very small, dirty-looking stones."