More photographers under investigation in Diana's death
Spencer family files civil suit
September 5, 1997
Web posted at: 8:04 p.m. EDT (0004 GMT)
PARIS (CNN) -- Three more photographers were placed under official investigation Friday for possible manslaughter charges in connection with the death of Britain's Princess Diana.
The decision by a French magistrate brought to 10 the number of people now being investigated for their alleged roles in a chase by photographers through the streets of Paris that may have contributed to the deaths last Sunday of Diana, her companion Dodi Fayed, and their driver Henri Paul.
Also on Friday, a French judicial source confirmed that Princess Diana's family has filed a civil suit in connection with her death. That will give the Spencers access to documents related to the investigation and would allow them to seek damages if any of the photographers came to trial.
The families of Fayed and Paul had previously filed civil suits.
Diana concerned about motorcycle photographers
The head of security for the Fayed family said Friday that on the night Princess Diana died, she expressed worries that some of the motorcycle-riding photographers following her might fall under the wheels of the car and get hurt.
"She had expressed concern ... at the foolhardiness of the motorcycle riders, not for the safety of the vehicle she was traveling in," said Paul Handley-Greaves.
"She expressed concern (that) the erratic manner in which they were driving might result in one of them falling under the wheels either of the lead car or the backup."
The car in which Diana was riding crashed inside a tunnel as it was making its way from the Ritz Hotel, owned by Fayed's father, to a Paris villa. She was pronounced dead a short time later at a hospital, while Fayed and Paul died at the scene. A bodyguard was critically injured.
There have been reports that photographers who had gathered at the hotel chased the car on motorcycles before the crash. At least one witness says he saw a motorcycle cut in front of the car just before it hit the side of the tunnel.
French prosecutors have also said that postmortem tests showed that the blood alcohol level for the driver of the car was about three times the legal limit in France.
Photographer: 'What was I supposed to do?'
In comments published Friday, a photographer on the scene that night admitted that he and others took pictures of the mortally injured princess and left the accident scene without trying to help the victims.
"Diana was (still) alive. She was still moving," the unidentified
photographer told German television in comments picked up by
the French newspaper Liberation.
"OK, we took photos without thinking. What was I supposed to
do? I'm neither a doctor nor a fireman," he said. "My job
is to take photos."
The man said Paul, the driver, was going too fast, and faulted him for recklessness. "I have never seen anyone take off like that," he said. "He was driving like a gangster."
Witness: Motorcycle cut in front of Mercedes
Another witness, Franck Levi, said Diana's black Mercedes was two cars behind him as he entered the tunnel along the Seine River where the crash occurred.
"When I was halfway through the tunnel, I saw a motorcycle
cut in front of it," he said. "When the motorcycle cut in
front of him, I saw a large white flash."
After that, he said he saw the Mercedes' headlights "go to
the left, to the right and again on the left." He then lost
sight of the sedan as he began to drive up out of the tunnel.
When asked if the flash was like one might see from a camera, he replied that it was.
Lawyers representing the Fayed family said Levi told police the same version of events.
Fayed family disputes driver was drunk
The Ritz Hotel on Friday released a surveillance tape showing
Diana and Fayed there on the evening of their deaths. A hotel official also confirmed that Fayed gave Diana a ring and had written her a poem.
A spokesman for the Fayed family said the security tapes show that Paul could not have been as intoxicated as police and prosecutors claim.
A pathologist hired by the family, Peter Vanezis, disputed the results of blood tests done on Paul, saying they were not vigorous enough and that material from ruptured organs could have contaminated the samples.
Report: 3 photographers tried to sell shots
The three photographers placed under investigation Friday for manslaughter charges had been detained on Thursday after turning themselves in to authorities.
The newspaper Figaro reported that the three tried to sell photos immediately after the crash to the LS Presse agency, but were turned down.
The police investigation is focusing on possible charges of
manslaughter and failure to come to the aid of a person in
danger, a crime under French law.
Sources close to the investigation also said investigators
are interested in how the car of a photographer questioned
after the accident came to be parked in front of the wrecked
Mercedes when emergency services arrived.
Correspondent Jackie Shymanski and Reuters contributed to this report.