Mystery Fiat May Be Photographer's
Feb. 13, 1998
PARIS (AP) _ The mysterious white Fiat Uno linked to the crash that killed Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed was owned by a photographer, an investigator for the Fayed family claimed today.
A police source denied the claim. The car matched neither the model nor color of the Fiat Uno that authorities were seeking, and had been ``formally excluded from the case,'' the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Police have long sought a white Fiat Uno believed to have collided with the black Mercedes carrying Diana, which crashed into a pillar of Paris tunnel on Aug. 31.
The Fiat ``belonged to a photojournalist who was very interested in the Princess of Wales,'' said Pierre Ottavioli, a former police commissioner hired by the Fayed family.
The car, found in a Paris garage, was damaged on the left-rear fender and was repainted, Ottavioli said.
Officials had no immediate public comment on the claim by Ottavioli, who offered no evidence supporting his allegation. The police source said the vehicle Ottavioli cited was ``of no interest to the investigation.''
The source said police rechecked the car Thursday in a garage near Tours, about 120 miles southwest of Paris.
If confirmed, the claim could raise new questions about what role the photographers chasing Diana may have played in the crash.
Investigators have also focused on the high speed at which Diana's car was traveling and the drunken state of the driver, Henri Paul, who was also killed in the crash. They believe the car may have bounced off the Fiat before crashing.
The car was the same one the father of Dodi Fayed has asked officials to re-examine, a judicial source said on condition of anonymity.
The judicial source said the photographer, who has not been publicly identified, has already been accused of invasion of privacy by Fayed's father, Mohamed al-Fayed and his lawyers, Georges Kiejman and Bernard Dartevelle.
The photographer was not among the paparazzi found at the scene of the crash and taken into custody. Investigators had checked the car's papers previously, but established no link with the photographer.
The car was sold in November to the Fiat garage, investigators said.
One of al-Fayed's lawyers sent a letter to investigating judge Herve Stephan on Wednesday to let him know the damaged Fiat was sold to a Paris region, the judicial source said.
In the letter, the lawyer also expressed astonishment that the former owner of the vehicle was never questioned by investigators. He also asked Stephan to look into why the extensive bodywork done on the car was performed just before the car was sold, the source said.
Al Fayed, as a civil party to the investigation, has access to the investigators' case file.