Naomi Campbell Explodes After ABC News 'Blood Diamond' Questions

Fashion model denies allegations she took 'huge' uncut gem from African despot.

April 13, 2010, 4:58 PM

Apr. 22, 2010 — -- Allegations that fashion model Naomi Campbell was given a "blood diamond" by the deposed African despot Charles Taylor have become center stage at Taylor's trial for crimes against humanity and led to another one of Campbell's infamous outbursts of anger.

"I didn't receive a diamond and I'm not going to speak about that," Campbell told ABC News before walking out of an interview and punching the camera in a producer's hand when pressed on the details.

The Campbell interview will be included in reports on the case to be broadcast this evening on World News with Diane Sawyer and Nightline.

Prosecutors in the Hague for the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone say Campbell has refused their requests to be interviewed about the allegations that they say could help directly link Taylor, the former president of Liberia, to the possession of uncut diamonds used to fuel a campaign of terror in Sierra Leone between 1997 and 2001.

Campbell would not answer questions about her alleged refusal to cooperate with the international criminal tribunal. Her London-based lawyer also declined to comment.

Taylor is accused of orchestrating bloody massacres in which thousands were killed or maimed by amputation, leading to the phrase "blood diamonds."

"The diamonds made possible the continuation of the conflict but they also profoundly profited Charles Taylor," said former chief prosecutor Steven Rapp, who is now the United States Ambassador at Large for War Crimes.

Campbell's alleged receipt of a "blood diamond" first surfaced after actress Mia Farrow told prosecutors she heard Campbell describe a "huge diamond" she had received from Taylor.

"You don't forget when a girlfriend tells you she was given a huge diamond in the middle of the night," Farrow told ABC News.

Farrow said she and Campbell were both guests at the home of South African president Nelson Mandela, where Taylor was also visiting.

She said Campbell described in detail a middle of the night visit from two of Taylor's men.

"She said during the night, some men had knocked at her door and she, half asleep, had opened the door and it was representatives of President Charles Taylor and that they had given her a huge diamond," Farrow told ABC News. "We were like, 'oh my gosh.'"

Naomi Campbell

Prosecutors say the event is significant because it directly links Taylor to such uncut diamonds. One of the allegations in the case is that Taylor was in South Africa at the time to buy weapons for the Sierra Leone rebels with "blood diamonds."

Under cross examination at the trial, Taylor repeatedly denied he had a large quantity of diamonds or that he sent one to Naomi Campbell.

"Total nonsense," Taylor testified when asked if "that diamond that you sent Naomi Campbell was one of the diamonds that you had been given by the junta in Sierra Leone."

"And those diamonds, along with money given to you by the junta were to be used to procure weapons for the junta?," the prosecutor, Brenda Hollis, then asked.

"Totally incorrect," replied Taylor.

Prosecutors had hoped Campbell could rebut Taylor's denials.

Despite Campbell's refusal to help prosecutors, and her denial to ABC News that she received a diamond from Taylor, actress Farrow says "there's no doubt in my mind" of what happened.

"All I thought was gosh, what an amazing life Naomi Campbell has. Probably lots of men are always giving her diamonds and she said she was going to give it to Nelson Mandela's children's charity and I thought no more about it," Farrow said.

The donor relations manager for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, Mpake Pule, said there is no record the charity received a diamond from Campbell. She did make cash contributions of $50,000 that year and the year after, the charity officer said.

The Taylor trial has been underway for almost three years in the Hague.

Witnesses have included former Taylor deputies and some 50 victims of the terror campaign from Sierra Leone.

Taylor has strongly denied the prosecution's accusations that he "orchestrated" the atrocities in Sierra Leone.

"I resent that characterization of me," he testified. "It is false, it is malicious."

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