June 15 - Former Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund trustee Jeremy Ratcliffe has been acquitted of possessing uncut “blood diamonds”. Nick Rowlands reports.
Former Nelson Mandela Children's Fund trustee Jeremy Ratcliffe has been acquitted of possessing illegal uncut diamonds. Speaking to reporters outside the Alexandra Magistrate Court in Johannesburg, Ratcliffe says he is delighted with the ruling. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER NELSON MANDELA CHILDREN'S FUND DIRECTOR JEREMY RATCLIFFE: "I mean I've always thought I was innocent and it's very nice to have this proven, it's taken some time, but yes, I'm very happy." Supermodel Naomi Campbell testified at The Hague last year that she thought it was former Liberian President Charles Taylor who had given her a bag of diamonds as a charity donation. She subsequently gifted the uncut stones, claimed by prosecutors at The Hague to be illegally mined and sold "blood diamonds", to Ratcliffe. Ratcliffe said he held on to them for 14 years because he didn't want to bring the Children's Fund into disrepute. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER NELSON MANDELA CHILDREN'S FUND DIRECTOR JEREMY RATCLIFFE: "Keeping them for that point of time was waiting for, perhaps something that would allow something to happen and life has a way of doing that, but in the end of course we went to, we offered to go to the court at the Hague on the fact that Naomi had to give evidence on that." His lawyer says justice has been done. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JEREMY RATCLIFFE'S LAWYER NICHOLAS TAITZ: "We believe that the court finding today has simply confirmed what we thought all along, the state did not prove that the items in question were diamonds and Mr Ratcliffe was rightly acquitted. We believe that justice has been done." Ratcliffe handed the uncut gems to police after Campbell had testified at the war crimes tribunal in 2010. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.