Al-Fayed loses Diana paparazzi appeal

14th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 14 (AFP) - A French appeals court Tuesday acquitted three photographers of charges they broke privacy laws by photographing Diana, Princess of Wales the night of her fatal accident in Paris in 1997.

PARIS, Sept 14 (AFP) - A French appeals court Tuesday acquitted three photographers of charges they broke privacy laws by photographing Diana, Princess of Wales the night of her fatal accident in Paris in 1997.  

The verdict upheld a November 2003 judgement clearing Frabrice Chassery, Jacques Langevin and Christian Martinez of the same charges.  

It was a defeat for Mohamed Al-Fayed, the millionaire Egyptian father of Diana's companion Dodi, and for the French state prosecutor's office, both of which had argued that the vehicle constituted a private space protected from the photographers' cameras.  

Diana, 36, and Dodi Fayed, 42, died on the night of August 31, 1997, shortly after leaving the Ritz Hotel owned by Al-Fayed. Their chauffeur, Henri Paul, who also died, was found in the official French inquest to have been responsible for the crash because he was driving drunk at high speed.  

The main investigation on the causes of the accident was closed in April 2002, putting an end to formal manslaughter inquiries brought against nine photographers -- including the three judged Tuesday -- and a press motorcyclist.  

But Al-Fayed, angry that Chassery, Langevin and Martinez had taken photos of Diana and Dodi as they left the Ritz and then as the couple lay in the wreckage of the crashed Mercedes, lodged the appeal on the privacy issue.  

The state prosecutor's office offered mild support for the appeal, but only for the photos taken at the Ritz. At a June hearing in the appeal case, its lawyers asked that the photographers be acquitted for the pictures taken at the scene of the accident on grounds of freedom of the press.  

Chassery, a freelance photographer at the time; Langevin, who worked for the Sygma/Corbis agency, and Martinez of the Angeli agency were originally acquitted when a lower court determined they did not photograph any intimate moments and that the inside of a car did not constitute a private place.  

An investigation is still under way in Paris on the validity of toxicology tests conducted on Paul after the crash.  

Paul's parents contend that the samples used to conclude that their son was responsible for the deaths did not come from Paul's body.  

Britain's top police official, John Stevens, is also conducting an inquiry to determine whether Al-Fayed's claims that the crash was not an accident have any basis in truth.  

Al-Fayed has insisted the death was the work of British intelligence services worried about Diana's relationship with his son.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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