Supermodel Naomi Campbell is back in court but this time it's not for her own defense. She took the stand against Liberian President Charles Taylor Thursday at a special tribunal in the Netherlands
. Taylor is being tried for war crimes and Campbell was questioned over the issue of whether or not Taylor gave her rough diamonds that are believed to be "blood diamonds," conflict stones mined in Sierra Leone. Liberia is next to Sierra Leone, which in the 1990s was involved in a bloody civil war partly fueled by the money earned by selling diamonds. Taylor has been accused of taking possession of Sierra Leone diamonds and using them both for his own profit and to buy arms which would be sent back to the war-torn country. Taylor has pleaded not guilty to charges of crimes against humanity including murder and enslavement and war crimes including acts of terrorism and torture. The civil war in Sierra Leone killed approximately 500,000 people and many others were mutilated, having arms and hands cut off. The rebels were infamous for their use of drugged child soldiers who were taken from their homes and sent off to commit horrible crimes. In 2003, the Kimberley Process
certification program was established to prevent rough diamonds from being used to finance these types of conflicts and to stop these stones from making their way into the global market.
Taylor has publicly said that he never handled blood diamonds. Prosecutors had rested their case in February of 2009 but later reopened it after hearing that Campbell may have received diamonds from Taylor. Campbell was called to testify to tell her story of meeting Taylor and receiving a gift of "dirty-looking stones" later the same evening. The hand-off occurred after a dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela in 1997 that was attended by Campbell, Taylor, Mia Farrow and others. After the dinner Campbell says she was asleep in her hotel room when there was a knock at the door. She opened the door and two men handed her a small pouch that they said was a gift. The next morning she opened the pouch to see a few small stones. At breakfast she told the story to her agent at the time, Carole White and Mia Farrow. Campbell says she passed the stones on to a friend and asked him to use them in a charity auction to raise money for underprivileged children. The episode could prove as a vital link showing that Taylor at least had possession of rough diamonds.
AP video of the testimony is after the jump.