NPA receives ‘Campbell diamonds’ docket

2010-09-17 15:34

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has received a docket relating to uncut diamonds that a former Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund trustee said he received from model Naomi Campbell.

“A docket has been submitted for a decision,” said NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga today.

The docket was handed over by specialist police unit the Hawks, but further details on its contents could not be divulged while prosecutors decide whether to go ahead with a court case.

Last month, Jeremy Ractliffe admitted that he took and kept three small uncut diamonds given to Campbell in 1997 so she would not get into trouble.

During Campbell’s testimony at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the Netherlands, she spoke of how she was given the diamonds in the middle of the night and presumed they were from Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president on trial for war crimes.

Ractliffe then issued a statement saying he took and kept the uncut diamonds given to Campbell while on a trip associated with the fund, so she would not get into trouble.

“Three small uncut diamonds were given to me by Naomi Campbell on the Blue Train on 26th September 1997,” he said in a statement.

He took them because he thought it might be illegal for her to take uncut diamonds out of the country.

Campbell suggested they could be of some benefit to the fund, but Ractliffe said he told her he would not involve the fund in anything that could be illegal.

“In the end I decided I should just keep them.”

The fund distanced itself from the matter, saying it knew nothing about it, and Ractliffe had since resigned from its board and apologised for not telling the chairperson about the diamonds.

A person found in possession of uncut diamonds, which is illegal in South Africa without a licence, could face 10 years imprisonment.

Yesterday, the Associated Press (AP) reported that Taylor’s chief lawyer Courtenay Griffiths said he wanted former president Thabo Mbeki to give evidence at the special court on the circumstances of Taylor’s resignation.

He also wanted to get information on any arms deals that Taylor might have made.

This was related to the prosecution’s suggestion that Taylor brought “blood diamonds” with him on a trip to South Africa in 1997. According to AP, the prosecution believed some of the stones were used to broker an arms deal in South Africa.

Mbeki’s office issued a statement today saying that they had not been contacted in this regard, no meeting had taken place and no meeting would take place.

The agency added that Taylor said he was innocent of 11 war-crimes charges linked to allegations that he supported rebels during Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war.

Blood diamonds are diamonds either mined in inhumane conditions, or for the purposes of funding rebel movements.

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