Joined: 13 Feb 2006
|Posted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 9:23 pm Post subject: DIANA: FRENCH HIDING SECRETS
|DIANA: FRENCH HIDING SECRETS
Daily Express Weekend
1 Apr 2006
By Mark Reynolds in London and Peter Allen in Paris
As the country was hit by riots and a general strike, embarrassed officials blamed civil unrest for being unable to devote enough resources to the inquiry. But the lame excuse was greeted with dismay by Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi died alongside the Princess in a Paris car crash.
The Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg had set a deadline of next week for the French to answer key questions about what French are refusing to answer questions on Diana’s death really happened before, during and after the crash in August 1997. But last night a French legal source said: “The situation is so chaotic that providing adequate answers in such a short time is proving impossible.”
A spokesman for Mr Al Fayed said: “This is extremely disappointing but typical of the French. They have answers to vital questions and it is high time they presented them to the Court of Human Rights.”
The delay will also frustrate British detectives who are looking to complete their own inquiry into Diana’s death.
After years spent denying allegations of suppressing evidence, the French had been due to present their findings on Thursday.
But many now question whether the truth will ever be uncovered, fuelling claims of a cover-up orchestrated by both the French and British secret services.
Lawyers had originally demanded that the French government answer a number of questions by February of this year. The deadline was then put back to April 6. But even this extended deadline has proved unachievable and it has now been extended indefinitely.
A lawyer close to the investigation said: “The French thought their original inquiry was fine and saw no reason why they should be forced to start all over again. They keep going on about how more than eight years have passed since Diana’s death.
“Unfortunately the Strasbourg deadline is now pretty much openended. But Strasbourg is primarily interested in the truth emerging, even if it does take longer than at first expected.”
A spokesman for the Palais de Justice in Paris insisted last night: “The investigation continues and we will continue to liaise with all the relevant bodies.” Unanswered questions include why it took so long for Diana to reach hospital, why pathologists broke French law by allowing her body to be embalmed, thus rendering pregnancy tests invalid, and why blood tests showing that chauffeur Henri Paul was drunk have never been verified independently.
Such was the seriousness with which the court viewed the case that it was initially fast-tracked. In normal circumstances, such an investigation could take 10 years.
The official French inquiry concluded in 1999 that driver Paul was drunk and speeding in a car he did not normally drive when he lost control entering the Alma tunnel.
But readings of carbon monoxide and alcohol in his body meant it would have been impossible for him to stand, let alone drive.
Harrods owner Mr Al Fayed has always claimed that his son and Diana were murdered on orders of the British establishment because she was expecting his baby.
Speculation was also fuelled by a letter in which Diana said she feared her brakes would be tampered with.
Mr Al Fayed had petitioned the court under human rights legislation which guarantees everybody the right to life.
His lawyers successfully argued that the deaths were mysterious and that relatives had a legal right to a proper investigation.
The British inquiry into Diana’s death by former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens is expected to be completed next year. But detectives say the French are not cooperating fully.
Nine-year battle to uncover the truth
August 31, 1997: Diana and Dodi are fatally injured when their chauffeur-driven Mercedes crashes into a concrete pillar in the Alma tunnel in Paris. September 1, 1997: Blood test results suggest driver Henri Paul was over the drink-drive limit. September 6, 1997: Princess Diana’s funeral. October 2, 1997:
Forensic tests show Fiat Uno involved in crash. September 3, 1999:
Official French inquiry concludes that Diana and Dodi died because Paul was drunk, under influence of prescription drugs and speeding. August 29, 2003:
Royal coroner Michael Burgess announces his intention to hold inquests into deaths. October 20, 2003:
Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell publishes letter in which Diana said she feared that the brakes of her car would be tampered with to clear the way for Prince Charles to marry again. January 6, 2004:
Coroner asks Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens to examine theories that Princess and her lover were murdered. April 26, 2005:
Sir John and the coroner visit the Alma tunnel. January 29, 2006:
Lord Stevens, as he is now, says his investigation has proved more complex than he expected and Dodi’s father was right to raise concerns
Diana, Princess of Wales is and always will be The People's Princess.