Diana photographers retrial ruling due Tuesday

13th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 13 (AFP) - A French appeals court will rule Tuesday whether three photographers who were part of the press pack that chased Princess Diana on the night of her death in Paris in 1997 took pictures that broke privacy laws.

PARIS, Sept 13 (AFP) - A French appeals court will rule Tuesday whether three photographers who were part of the press pack that chased Princess Diana on the night of her death in Paris in 1997 took pictures that broke privacy laws.  

The photographers - Fabrice Chassery, Jacques Langevin and Christian Martinez - were acquitted in November 2003, but state prosecutors and Mohamed Al-Fayed, the millionaire Egyptian father of Diana's companion Dodi, appealed.  

They stand accused of violating French privacy laws by taking photos of Diana and Dodi as they left the Ritz hotel in Paris owned by Al-Fayed and then as the two lay in the wreckage of their Mercedes after their fatal car crash.  

Langevin took two photos at the Ritz, Chassery took one at the hotel and one after the accident, and Martinez snapped two photos after the crash in a tunnel near the Seine.  

At a June hearing before the Paris appeals court, state prosecutors asked that the photographers who took photos at the scene of the accident again be acquitted, invoking freedom of press laws.  

But prosecutors left the door open for Langevin and Chassery to face punishment for their work at the Ritz, provided that the court determined that it indeed constituted a violation of privacy law.  

"I did the job I was supposed to do," Langevin, the only one of the three photographers to attend the June hearing, told the court. "I don't feel I infringed on the intimacy of a private place."  

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

Bernard Dartevelle, the attorney for Al-Fayed, argued that the Cour de Cassation - France's highest appeals court - had always held that the inside of a car was in fact considered a private place under French law.  

Diana, 36, and Dodi Fayed, 42, died on the night of August 31, 1997 shortly after leaving the Ritz. 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 and a press motorcyclist - including the three on trial here.  

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 their son was not an alcoholic and that the samples that formed the basis of the official conclusion blaming him 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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