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Naomi Campbell could be charged over blood diamonds

Naomi Campbell may be charged with possessing illegal uncut diamonds, say police in South Africa.

The supermodel’s actions will be examined along with everyone else who handled the three uncut diamonds which are now in police custody.

In South Africa, it is a criminal offence for someone to have an uncut diamond in their possession and the penalties range from a large fine to 10 years in prison for repeat offenders.

Giving evidence at the war crimes tribunal of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor this week, Ms Campbell, 40, said she was given the "dirty-looking pebbles" by two men who knocked on the door to her room in the middle of the night after a dinner in Pretoria hosted by Nelson Mandela.

She said she did not know where the stones came from, but handed them over the next day to Jeremy Ratcliffe, who was at the time the head of the Mr Mandela Children’s Fund. Mr Ratcliffe has since admitted that he had kept the diamonds – which he thought could be illegal – he said to protect Ms Campbell and Mr Mandela’s reputations.

Detectives will be looking at questioning everyone who came into contact with the uncut diamonds, including Ms Campbell.

Tests on the diamonds have not clarified whether they were from Sierra Leone, said Musa Zondi, from South Africa's Hawks criminal investigation unit, which picked up the diamonds from Mr Ratcliffe's house last week. He said police will now try and find out where the diamonds came from through their own investigations. Police will also try and find out whether the people who handled the diamonds knew it is illegal to possess them.

"We are investigating an offence and who might have committed it," he said. "The decision on who to prosecute, that's the job of the prosecuting authority. All we can do is to get all the facts and offer our conclusion."

Prosecutors in Mr Taylor's war crimes tribunal at The Hague allege that the diamonds came from the Liberian leader and were blood diamonds he had traded to fund the brutal war in Liberia's neighbouring Sierra Leone. They think that when he was at the 1997 the dinner he was in South Africa to arrange to exchange the diamonds for an arms delivery that arrived to fuel the 1991-2001 civil war that killed 120,000 people and widely used child soldiers.

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