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French Court Denies Al Fayed Claim

November 7, 2001

PARIS (AP) _ A French court denied Mohamed Al Fayed’s claim for damages Wednesday over what he had called a flawed part of the inquiry into the Princess Diana case.

Al Fayed had claimed $141,000, saying that two French investigating judges erred when they didn’t immediately investigate a charge of invasion of privacy against the news photographers at the scene.

The Aug. 31, 1997 crash at the Alma traffic tunnel killed Diana, Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul.

An investigation into the invasion-of-privacy claim began only this year, with another judge. Under Judge Muriel Josie, eight photographers who were cleared in the main probe have been placed under investigation _ a step short of formal charges _ for photographing the victims in their car.

Al Fayed was not in court for Wednesday’s ruling, nor were his lawyers.

In its ruling, the court acknowledged ``some malfunctioning and lack of diligence″ on the part of the original investigating judges, Herve Stephan and Marie-Christine Devidal.

But it said that according to basic principles of justice, Al Fayed ``has seen his rights recognized.″ The court also said that Al Fayed couldn’t claim that he’s been the victim of a judicial violation, because ultimately the invasion-of-privacy claim was indeed examined.

Al Fayed, the Egyptian-born owner of Harrods department store in London, had said he would donate any damages to Amnesty International.

Even if he had won his case, the main investigation into the high-speed crash would not have been reopened.

In September 1999, Judge Stephan threw out charges of manslaughter against nine photographers and a press motorcyclist, saying that drugs and alcohol taken by Paul, as well as excessive speed, caused the deaths.

Al Fayed has long claimed the deaths were a murder conspiracy plotted by people who disapproved of Diana’s relationship with his son.

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