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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ractliffe Charged with Possessing Rough Diamonds

The man who allegedly concealed a diamond gift to supermodel Naomi Campbell has been formally charged by South African authorities, according to media reports.

The National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa has charged Jeremy Ractliffe (pictured left), the former chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, with violating the Diamonds Act of 1956, under which it is illegal to possess uncut diamonds, according to the report.

During the Charles Taylor war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, Campbell testified in August that after dinner at Nelson Mandela’s house in 1997, which Taylor, who was the Liberian president at the time, also attended, she later received a mysterious package with uncut diamonds from people she didn’t know. Taylor gave the diamonds to Ractliffe who kept it in a personal safe without anyone’s knowledge. After Campbell’s testimony, Ractliffe, a South African resident, gave the diamonds to country's authorizes.

Since the testimony, Ractliffe’s life has been turned upside down. He was forced to resign from the Mandela charitable organization and he is now being prosecuted by South African authorities.

Taylor is charged with 17 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity while president of Liberia. Specifically, he is accused of backing the rebel Revolutionary United Front in the Sierra Leone Civil War and assisting them through weapon sales, which were smuggled illegally, in exchange for blood diamonds. These weapons were used to commit atrocities against civilians that left many thousands dead or mutilated, with unknown numbers of people abducted and tortured.

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