Police: Photographers interfered at Diana crash
September 3, 1997
Web posted at: 10:11 a.m. EDT (1411 GMT)
PARIS (CNN) -- A police report emerged Wednesday accusing
photographers of obstructing their work at the scene of the
car crash that killed Princess Diana.
Meanwhile, there were reports that driver Henri Paul, who was
legally drunk, did not have a proper chauffeur's license and
may have run a red light. Paul died in Sunday's high-speed
accident in a Paris tunnel, as did Diana's boyfriend, Dodi
Trevor Rees-Jones, a bodyguard who worked for Fayed's family,
remained hospitalized in Paris in critical condition.
Princess Diana's family has contacted French authorities to
offer its assistance in the investigation, the newspaper Le
Monde reported Wednesday. The unconfirmed report also says
the royal family is considering a civil suit.
The Fayed and Paul families have already filed civil suits,
a step that allows them to be paid damages should
photographers they suspect of causing the crash be convicted.
Photographer interference alleged
A police report on the accident says photographers pushed
back the first officer on the scene as he tried to reach the
Because of the swarm of photographers, all the officer was
able to glimpse of Diana before more police arrived to help
him was "a blonde head," the report says, quoting from the
first notes scribbled by investigators 20 minutes after
The report quotes Christian Martinez, a photographer for the
Angeli photo agency as telling a policeman, "Let me do my
work. In Sarajevo, the cops allowed us to work. Try having
someone shoot at you, you'll see."
Some of the photographers picked up by police have worked in
war zones and other dangerous settings.
Six photographers and a motorcycle driver were named Tuesday
as official suspects in the case. All seven were freed, two
on bail. But they have been warned they could be tried for
manslaughter and failure to provide
aid to the accident victims.
Police also were searching Wednesday for three additional photographers believed to have been at the scene of the crash.
Photographers defend their actions
An attorney for Romuald Rat of the Gamma photo agency denied
that his client interfered with police. The attorney,
Philippe Benamou, said Rat merely took Diana's pulse while he
was snapping pictures of the wreckage. "He wanted to see
if she was dead or alive," the lawyer said.
Attorney William Bourdon, who represents Nikola Arsov, of the
Sipa photo agency, calls the case against Arsov "ridiculous"
and predicts prosecutors will not be able to get a
conviction. "He (Arsov) didn't have to give any help. When he
arrived there were ambulances, police and doctors," Bourdon
Several witnesses who came upon the crash site shortly
afterward have described photographers swarming around the
wrecked Mercedes, taking pictures from every possible angle.
But one of the photographers, Jacques Langevin of the Sygma
agency, told French radio Wednesday that he tried to do his
job as quickly and unobtrusively as possible and stayed out
of the way.
"I took some pictures with a telephoto lens from 10 or 15
meters (yards) away. I did my work normally -- I didn't throw
myself on the car," he said.
Report: Driver ran red light
Langevin is also quoted in the newspaper Liberation as saying
the car's driver ran a red light at Place de Vendome and
The driver did not appear in full control of the car, added
Langevin, a former Associated Press photographer who told the
paper he was disgusted by what other photographers were
doing at the scene and left after taking just five or six
Driver lacked license?
One of Paul's colleagues says the Mercedes driver did not
have the special police license required to act as a
"Making him drive was a mistake, as he was not allowed to
drive this car," the unnamed driver at the Ritz hotel, whose
voice was disguised, told French radio Europe 1. Paul was
deputy security chief at the hotel, which is owned by Fayed's
But a spokesman for the Al Fayed family on Wednesday denied
that the driver lacked the correct license.
Correspondent Walter Rodgers and Reuters contributed to this report.
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