February 22, 2006

Convictions for Diana paparazzi


Diana crash paparazzi to pay one euro in damages

PARIS (Reuters) - A French court has ordered three photographers to pay one euro in damages for breaching privacy laws when taking pictures of Princess Diana on the night of her fatal crash, according to a ruling made available on Wednesday.

The single euro divided between the trio will be paid to Mohamed al Fayed, the Egyptian-born millionaire and father of Dodi al Fayed, Diana's companion who also died in the crash.

Diana, Dodi and chauffeur Henri Paul were killed on August 31, 1997 when their Mercedes car crashed in a tunnel as it sped away from the Ritz hotel in the French capital with paparazzi photographers in hot pursuit on motorbikes.

The photographers were sentenced on Friday after the Paris appeals court overturned earlier rulings and decided that the three had invaded the couple's privacy twice during the evening.

The first time was while taking pictures near the Ritz hotel and the second was by taking photos of the Princess after the accident in the Alma tunnel.

The decision comes after a long legal battle for the photographers Jacques Langevin, Christian Martinez and Eric Chassery.

France's highest appeals court said last April they must be retried after an earlier ruling had acquitted them.

Mohamed al Fayed had appealed against that earlier ruling, which followed an original court acquittal of the three photographers in November 2003.

An inquiry by French authorities in 1999 ruled that the crash was caused by Paul being drunk and driving too fast.

But the circumstances of the crash still cause controversy.

Al Fayed, owner of London store Harrods, wants the paparazzi punished and has said he believes his son and Diana were murdered by British secret services because their relationship was embarrassing the royal household.

Diana's marriage to Britain's heir to the throne Britain's
Prince Charles broke down in 1992 and ended in divorce. Charles married his longtime lover Camilla Parker Bowles last year.

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