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|August 15, 2010|
- Should Naomi Campbell ever wish for some more dodgy diamonds to grace her supermodel limbs, Cindor Reeves knows the right people to call. It is a long way from his new home in Canada to the war-ravaged gem fields of his native West Africa, and a long time since the trade in "blood diamonds" was officially banned, but as long as Ms Campbell sticks to her habit of not asking where they came from, he says a deal could probably be done.
"I tell you, I could get on the phone to people out there tomorrow, and they will fly them to wherever you want," he says, shaking his head. "They are supposed to have brought this trade under control, but it still goes on, and as long as it does, we will have wars in Africa."--
On the subject of illegal gemstones, it is fair to say that Mr Reeves is uniquely well connected, even if many of his best contacts are now either dead, on the run, or in jail. The tall, quietly spoken 38-year-old is the brother-in-law, no less, of Charles Taylor, the Liberian dictator who gave Ms Campbell a gift of uncut diamonds in 1997, according to her recent testimony at his war crimes trial in the Hague. For four turbulent years, he was at the centre of the blood diamonds trade, acting as Taylor's personal envoy in his infamous arms-for-gems deals with the rebels in next door Sierra Leone, whose drug-crazed recruits raped, maimed and slaughtered their way through a war that claimed some 150,000 lives.
As such, he also knows about the appalling price in human misery that was paid so that "the chief", as his brother-in-law was known, could flatter pretty girls at parties. The gifts Taylor used to hand out to the likes of Ms Campbell were the proceeds of dozens of clandestine trips that Mr Reeves made into the Sierra Leone bush, where he would swap truckloads of weapons for tiny but highly valuable packages of stones, many from rebel-held mines being run as virtual slave camps.
--- While he is not expected to give direct evidence to the Hague court, owing partly to a falling-out over the way court officials handled his witness protection provision, he is one of the key sources of information for a trial in which very few people have been brave enough to tell the truth. Among those who have been afraid to do so, he reckons, is Ms Campbell, who denied in court knowing that the stones she got were actually from Mr Taylor. "You could see the fear in her eyes, because she knows who Taylor is now," he said.
Photo—uncut or rough diamonds