|NMU||FRANCE||Press at Home & Abroad||Sep 20, 1999|
Prosecutor concludes photographers not responsible for Diana’s death
- The prosecutor’s office said it could not find any grounds to try nine photographers and a motorcyclist on manslaughter or other criminal charges relating to the deadly crash.
The photographers who pursued Diana, Princess of Wales, as she and her companion Dodi al-Fayed left the Ritz Hotel in Paris two years ago, were not responsible for causing the crash that later killed her and two other people in the car, the French prosecutor’s office announced on Aug. 17.
After conducting a “meticulous and exhaustive” search, the prosecutor’s office said it could not find any grounds to try the nine photographers and a motorcyclist on manslaughter or other criminal charges. As a result, the prosecutor’s office has recommended that all charges against the photographers be dropped, according to a New York Times story.
The final decision on whether to bring the men to trial on the charges is up to two magistrates who are to review the prosecutor’s findings and issue a determination by late September.
The death of the princess and Dodi al-Fayed, along with the car’s driver, Henri Paul, touched off a groundswell of opposition to “paparazzi” — photographers who track celebrities. Initial police reports indicated that the photographers were responsible for Paul losing control of the car and then crashing into the tunnel wall.
Within weeks, however, the blame shifted to Paul, whose blood alcohol at the time of his death was three times the legal limit for drunken driving.
In the United States, lawmakers recently have introduced several bills that would restrict photographers access to public figures.
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., introduced a bill in January that would make it a crime for a commercial photographer to chase or follow a person “in a manner that causes that person to have a reasonable fear of bodily injury. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is also considering re-introducing an anti-paparazzi bill, her office said.
Conyers’ bill, also called the Privacy Protection Act, was referred to the House Judiciary Committee and then passed on to the subcommittee on crime in February.
© 1999 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press