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Police probe possible role of paparazzi in Diana's death

Aerial of mangled crash August 31, 1997
Web posted at: 2:47 p.m. EDT (1847 GMT)

PARIS (CNN) -- French police took into custody seven photographers who had been following the car carrying Princess Diana before it crashed Sunday, killing her, her companion Dodi Fayed and the driver. A security guard in the car was injured.

The photographers, who reportedly were chasing the car in a high-speed pursuit of photos, were detained soon after the accident. Police announced Sunday afternoon that they had been placed in formal custody.

A special police unit usually assigned to high-priority terrorism cases was placed in charge of the investigation.

Under French law, police have the right to detain the photographers for 48 hours, after which they must be charged.

Prosecutors said it is a violation of French law to leave an accident and not give aid. At least four of the photographers could be charged with violations under the law, authorities said.

Diana had often complained of being plagued by the paparazzi -- the commercial photographers who have trailed her every move since she first came into the public eye.

"The inquiry will establish in more detail the role that these people may have played in the cause of the accident and how they behaved at the site," a police statement said.

Six of the photographers are French and one is Macedonian. All of them have French press cards.

"Preliminary investigations show that the princess's car was being chased by journalists who were trying to take photographs," Interior Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement said.

"It appears that the driver lost control of the car while driving at high speed," he added.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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