Mohamed Al Fayed Appeals against Verdict in Diana Crash
Egyptian tycoon Mohamed Al Fayed launched his appeal Friday against a Paris court's decision to exonerate press photographers who chased the car in which his son Dodi and Princess Diana were killed in 1997.
"If there had been no photographers, there would have been no crash," his lawyer Georges Kiejman said at the start of the appeals court hearing in central Paris.
Judges investigating the accident ruled in September last year that the tragedy was caused by the excessive speed of the driver, Henri Paul, who was under the influence of alcohol and anti-depressants. Paul also died in the accident.
The judges said there was no evidence of criminal behavior on the part of the nine photographers and one motorcycle courier, and dropped charges against them of "involuntary homicide" and "non-assistance to people in danger."
But Kiejman said the press pack had forced Paul to drive with excessive speed.
"If it hadn't been for the pressure of photographers, can anyone really suggest that -- even with a low level of alcohol in his blood -- the driver would have raced away so fast?" he said.
However, a lawyer for some of the photographers, William Bourdon, said there was no new evidence in the case, so nothing to suggest the court would change its mind.
"Of course I understand Mr. Al Fayed's need to find someone to blame, but he is contradictory. On the one hand he says it was all a conspiracy. But how can you square that with putting the blame on the photographers?" he said.
Dodi, Diana and Paul died on August 31, 1997 when their Mercedes limousine crashed into a pillar in an underpass by the river Seine. Only Diana's bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, survived.
Al Fayed, who was not in court, has refused to accept that the crash was an accident, blaming a conspiracy by the British establishment to prevent his son, a Muslim, marrying into the royal family.
Last month he filed a suit in the United States to make the Central Intelligence and National Security Agencies divulge information he claims they are concealing about the plot.
The family of Paul, who also contested the decision not to bring charges against the photographers, are co-sponsoring the appeal. The court is to give its ruling on October 31 – PARIS (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)