Campbell says 'nothing to gain' from false trial testimony

10th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Supermodel Naomi Campbell insisted Tuesday she had "nothing to gain" from providing false testimony at the war crimes trial of Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor about suspected blood diamonds.

"I've no motive here. Nothing to gain," she said in a statement released in London.

"I am a black woman who has and will always support good causes especially relating to Africa."

Her comments came after actress Mia Farrow and her former agent, Carole White, both told judges the model had accepted a gift of diamonds from Taylor and boasted about it the next day.

Campbell had told the trial in The Hague last week she did not know who had sent her the gems.

According to White, Campbell and Taylor had flirted throughout a charity dinner hosted by South Africa's then president Nelson Mandela in September 1997.

At one point, "she told me: 'he is going to give me some diamonds'," White said in her testimony on Monday. "She was very excited."

Campbell told judges last Thursday that two men brought a pouch containing two or three "dirty-looking stones" to her bedroom at the presidential guesthouse in Pretoria.

She said she did not know who the gift came from, but "assumed" it was from Taylor.

Prosecutors are trying to link the gift to Taylor, whom they accuse of having taken a consignment of uncut diamonds to South Africa "to sell... or exchange them for weapons" for Sierra Leone rebels.

Taylor, 62, is on trial for his alleged role in the 1991-2001 Sierra Leone civil war that claimed some 120,000 lives.

He is accused of receiving illegally mined "blood diamonds" for arming rebels who murdered, raped and maimed Sierra Leone civilians, amputating their limbs and carving initials on their bodies.

In the statement Tuesday, the supermodel also conceded that telling judges it was a "big inconvenience" that she had been forced to give evidence had been a "poor choice" of words.

"Campbell accepts the use of the word inconvenient' was a poor choice of word but it was made off the cuff and was taken massively out of context," said the statement from her media representatives, the Outside Organisation.

"It was in relation to a nonsensical question as to whether or not she was nervous appearing in court.

"Campbell had explained that she had fears for her family having read about Taylor's alleged crimes on the Internet, hence her initial reticence in appearing."

The statement added: "The suggestion that Campbell in some way doesn't care about the plight of those suffering in Africa is ridiculous and hurtful."

"It's indisputable and has been confirmed by all witnesses concerned that Naomi handed over the diamonds at the first possible opportunity for the benefit of a South African children's charity," it added.

© 2010 AFP

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