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Nelson Mandela charity official resigns over 'blood diamonds'

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (NMCF) trustee Jeremy Ractliffe has resigned from the charity's board, twelve days after admitting to the possession of "blood diamonds".

Earlier this month, supermodel Naomi Campbell testified against former Liberian president Charles Taylor when she claimed she received "very small, dirty looking stones" from two men, allegedly associated with Taylor. Campbell said she gave these diamonds to Ractliffe to "do something good with" in 1997. He gave the diamonds to police the day after Campbell's testimony. The police confirmed the stones were diamonds.

The board of the Mandela charity said in a statement, "Mr. Ractliffe regrets his omission to inform the chairperson, chief executive officer and the rest of the board of trustees of the NMCF of his receipt of the uncut diamonds until now... [Ractliffe] acknowledges that had he done so, he and the board would have found a better and lawful way to manage the situation."

Ractliffe took the diamonds from Campbell, fearing she might be prosecuted for removing uncut diamonds from South Africa, illegal without a license.

Ractcliffe said, "Naomi suggested they could be of some benefit to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund — but I told her I would not involve the NMCF in anything that could possibly be illegal... In the end I decided I should just keep them."

Taylor is on trial in The Hague, The Netherlands for allegedly trading diamonds for weapons to supply the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone. Taylor faces eleven counts for international crimes including rape, sexual slavery, enlistment of children under the age of fifteen, and pillaging.


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