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It’s hard to see where Taylor fits in with this celebrity crowd.

Taylor had only just been elected Liberia’s president. But before that he had invaded Liberia in 1989 and was the architect of back-to-back civil wars that would ultimately kill some 200,000 people until 2003. He is also accused of trading guns to rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone in exchange for uncut diamonds during that country’s 1992-2002 civil war, which left more than 100,000 dead.

In Liberia, Taylor drafted children into his army and had them drugged to perform horrific acts including cannibalism. Taylor’s men systematically raped, razed, slaughtered and maimed, and journalists had been writing of his alleged atrocities for years by 1997.

Campbell, who had long been involved in helping Mandela raise money for his charities, testified Thursday that she had never heard of Taylor, nor of Liberia.

While the country often made front-page news during the war, she apparently had never seen the photos of Taylor’s men dressed in drag or wearing Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse masks as they indiscriminately killed children, the elderly, Catholic nuns and other civilians. They twice besieged the capital, Monrovia, in 1991 and 1996 _ earning him the moniker “Butcher of Monrovia.”

Campbell said she received the stones from two men who knocked on her door as she slept in one of the guest villas at Mandela’s presidential complex in Pretoria _ comfortable two-story structures that are fully staffed, with bedrooms on the upper floor.

The fashion icon said that over breakfast the next morning fellow guests Mia Farrow and Carole White, Campbell’s former agent, said the stones must be diamonds and were probably a gift from Taylor.

While Campbell testified she had never heard the term “blood diamonds” and would never have guessed the “dirty-looking pebbles” were diamonds, she gave them to Ratcliffe in hopes that Mandela’s charity could benefit.

Ratcliffe, then head of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, said Friday that he kept the stones and did not report them to authorities in a bid to protect the reputations of Mandela, Campbell and the charity, of which he was a founder and remains a trustee.

“I took them because I thought it might well be illegal for her to take uncut diamonds out of the country,” said Ratcliffe, who is former financial director of an international engineering firm and established a foundation that educates underprivileged South African children.

In a statement, Ratcliffe indicated he knew there could be wrongdoing, saying “I told her (Campbell) I would not involve the NMCF (Mandela’s children’s charity) in anything that could possibly be illegal.”

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

Campbell’s testimony may be over, but that dinner in 1997 could still factor at Taylor’s war crimes trial: Farrow and White are expected to take the stand in the Netherlands on Monday.


Associated Press Writer Eric Naki contributed to this report from Johannesburg.

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