Photographers protest probe of colleagues in Diana case
September 24, 1997
Web posted at: 4:39 p.m. EDT (1639 GMT)
PARIS (CNN) -- About 80 news photographers refused to take
pictures of French ministers at a Cabinet meeting Wednesday
to protest the investigation of their colleagues in Princess
The photographers laid down their cameras and press cards
and stood in two lines as the ministers filed by, one-by-one,
in the presidential Elysee palace courtyard. Television
cameras filmed the scene as the photographers stood silently
with folded arms.
"We are here to support our colleagues who were placed under
investigation, and who now cannot work, because some of them
haven't been returned their press cards," said Joel Robin, a
spokesman for the photographers.
The protest came on the day the government presents its
budget bill at the palace -- a day when ministers would
ordinarily be photographed.
Nine photographers and one press motorcyclist are under
official investigation for manslaughter and failing to assist
people in danger, a crime in France. They have not been
Two of the photographers have been prevented from working
until the inquiry is completed, and have had their press
In a statement given to the ministers, the protesters
contended that preventing photographers from working hasn't
happened "since Petain," the French leader who collaborated
with the Nazis.
"We defend freedom of the press," the statement said. "This
is about information."
The photographers demanded to be heard by the culture
minister, Catherine Trautmann, who also is the government's
spokeswoman. She agreed to meet with the photographers later
Wednesday, but said she wouldn't comment on the
Diana, her companion Dodi Fayed, and driver Henri Paul were
killed when their car crashed in a Paris tunnel on August 31.
Investigators are looking into whether photographers trailing
Diana's Mercedes that night may have contributed to the crash
or hindered rescue efforts. The probe also has focused on
driver Paul, who was legally drunk and on prescription drugs
at the time of the accident.