Diana inquest moves to Paris

8th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

8 October 2007, PARIS (AFP) - The British coroner's inquest into the death of princess Diana moved to Paris on Monday, with jurors hearing the case set to retrace her final, ill-fated journey.

8 October 2007

PARIS (AFP) - The British coroner's inquest into the death of princess Diana moved to Paris on Monday, with jurors hearing the case set to retrace her final, ill-fated journey.

The long-awaited hearing began at London's High Court last week, with 11 jurors selected to pore over the much-aired evidence as to how Diana, 36, and her 42-year-old Egyptian boyfriend Dodi Fayed died 10 years ago.

The jurors and the coroner, High Court judge Scott Baker, were to visit the Pont de l'Alma tunnel, where the couple's high-powered Mercedes car crashed on August 31, 1997, killing them and their chauffeur, Henri Paul, 41.

It is one of a number of sites they will see on the two-day trip to the French capital to familiarise themselves with evidence they will hear over the next six months.

Sites include the Ritz Hotel, owned by Fayed's millionaire father Mohammed Al-Fayed, where the couple dined before setting out on their final journey, plus the hospital where the princess was taken for treatment and later died.

Court officials have kept the exact itinerary under wraps to prevent causing unnecessary disruption and to minimise the risk of jurors being identified. Jurors cannot be identified in Britain under law.

Coverage has also been restricted to a small pool of print and broadcast outlets to prevent a media circus trailing the court. French police will provide a security cordon to prevent unnecessary interference.

The jury is being flown to Paris on a charter jet and will stay at an undisclosed location. Judge Baker appealed to the media last week not to reveal where the panel is staying, should they find out.

Among other special arrangements, all court staff travelling with the party have been made to swear the same oath as the official jury bailiffs, vowing to preserve the integrity of the proceedings.

Official "interested parties", such as relatives of the couple, are also allowed to attend.

But neither representatives of Diana's sons princes William and Harry nor Al-Fayed, will attend, Britain's domestic Press Association said.

The inquest follows two official investigations by the French authorities and British police, which concluded that the crash was a "tragic accident" caused by Paul driving too fast while over the legal drink-drive limit.

Inquests are a legal requirement in England and Wales when a British citizen dies an unnatural death abroad and the body is repatriated.

They have a narrow remit, seeking only to identify the deceased and find how, when and where they died.

Al-Fayed, owner of London department store Harrods, maintains that Diana, whose eldest son William is second-in-line to the throne, was killed in an intelligence plot orchestrated by Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip to prevent her potential marriage to a Muslim.

He has sought, so far unsuccessfully, to force the queen and Prince Philip to testify.

AFP

Subject: French news

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