Blood Diamonds are forever

Naomi Campbell likes her diamonds "shiny". But those aren't the sort of diamonds that former warlords gift supermodels in the wee hours of the morning. And diamonds have dragged the tantrum-throwing, "I-won't-get-out-bed-for-less-than-10,000-dollars-per-day" model off the runway and to The Hague, as a key witness in the ongoing trial of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia.

Charles Taylor has been charged with 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law, all committed in Sierra Leone. It is alleged that he actively backed the rebel Revolutionary United Front in its armed conflict against the government in Freetown from 1996 to 2002 enriching himself, in return, through Sierra Leone's "blood diamonds".

How did a model end up at the Hague? Campbell attended a who's-who dinner in South Africa, hosted by Nelson Mandela, back in 1997, the peak of the supermodel craze. She dined with the charity clique: Mia Farrow, Quincy Jones, Jemima Goldsmith, Imran Khan and Charles Taylor. This is where, it is alleged, Taylor gifted the model uncut diamonds. The ones she now calls "dirty-looking stones".

But Charles Taylor claims to have no association with the diamonds, not in Sierra Leone, nor in South Africa. Instead he continues to proclaim his innocence in court.

That court, the "Special Court for Sierra Leone", was set up amid much buzz. It was the first international hybrid court: a blend of both international and domestic Sierra Leonean law, with judges from both The Hague and Sierra Leone. Now it bears another distinction. This is the first international tribunal to be graced by couture from the man who proudly claims to make "too few dresses," Alaia Azzedine.

Naomi Campbell claims that she was unaware that these diamonds were from Charles Taylor but acknowledges receiving them. Mia Farrow's testimony "you don't forget when a girlfriend tells you she was given a huge diamond in the middle of the night" also associates Taylor with the diamonds. The presence of high-profile celebrities may be threatening to turn the court into a circus; but the prosecution may have Taylor cornered.

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