Diana Inquest Opened at High Court


JF-Expert Member
Nov 14, 2006
Diana inquest opened at High Court in London yesterday.

30 lawyers, 11 jurors and one angry billionare - time scale 6 months approximately.

The billionare would like his wishes granted i.e. to put the queen ans his husband as witnesses etc.
Tuesday October 16,2007

Richard Palmer said:

TWO hitmen on a motorcycle shone a powerful flashlight at Princess Diana’s car before it crashed, her inquest was told yesterday. Francois Levistre was driving in front of the Mercedes when it crashed, killing Diana and her lover Dodi Fayed. He told the jury the bike stopped and the pillion passenger walked over to the wrecked car, inspected it then signalled like a referee when a boxer is out for the count.
The passenger, dressed like the rider all in black, then signalled that they needed to move quickly out of the Alma tunnel in Paris, the inquest in London heard.

Asked why he had not left his car to help those in the crash, Mr Levistre answered: “Fear.” Asked what he had been afraid of, he replied: “Just like I said, I thought they were hitmen.”

Mr Levistre, giving his evidence via video link from Paris, told how he saw the “major white flash” from the motorbike in his rear view mirror as the bike overtook Diana’s car.
The Mercedes began immediately careering across the road before crashing into the concrete pillars in the central reservation of the dual carriageway in the tunnel, he said. He told the jury in court 73 at the Royal Courts of Justice it was like the bright flash from a speed camera. “The light was as if you are caught by police radar,” he said. “The light was very powerful. It came into my car. The light was not directed towards me. It was directed towards the car which was behind.”

The inquest, which is expected to hear evidence for six months before deciding how Diana and Dodi died, heard that after the crash the self-employed businessman had performed tests with different kinds of lights in the Alma tunnel.

He concluded that the intensity of the flash was much greater than that produced by a normal photographer’s flash. He also told the court that he had not seen any photographers in the tunnel in the immediate aftermath of the crash. Mr Levistre, 63, from Rennes in Normandy, told the inquest he was driving through the French capital in a rented black Ford Ka after spending the day in the city with his wife and 10-year-old son.

He entered the riverside expressway from a sliproad near the entrance to the Alma tunnel after midnight on August 31 1997. A second later he saw in his mirror the motorbike overtake the car behind him and then the bright flash. “When I saw this light I looked through the mirror in my car,” he said. “There I saw the car going from left to right to left again within the pillars. And then the car had no lights any more. Everything was switched off.”

As he reached the end of the tunnel and viewed the mangled wreckage in his mirror, he brought his car to a halt but left the engine running. He was frightened, fearing it might have been a type of gangland hit.

“I thought it could be as in the south of France when you have gangs and bands fighting together,” he told the court. “They were dressed in all black with helmets. And the passenger went to the car, looked into the car – because from my mirror I could see everything that was happening – and the passenger he made a gesture with his hands,” the witness said, demonstrating a sign to indicate that it was over.

He told how the passenger then signalled that they should move straight ahead out of the tunnel and got back on the bike before the pair sped off, staring at the car’s occupants as they went by. Ian Burnett, QC for the coroner, asked him: “Was there any reason you didn’t get out of the car?”

“Fear,” replied Mr Levistre. “It’s just like I said to the magistrates before, I thought they were hitmen.”

Mr Levistre also said he saw a small white car in the tunnel, but maintained there was no contact between that and the Mercedes. He could not confirm it was a Fiat Uno. The first he heard that the crash victims were Diana and Dodi was when he was watching the television news at 1pm the next afternoon.

He and his family did not immediately report what they had seen to the police because they were scared, he told the inquest.
“We were in the situation in which we thought these two motorcyclists had gone to kill the other people in the car. And we were just scared.”

He told the court that after the crash he had remained in his car for between two and five minutes before driving off without getting out. When he saw television coverage of the crash, however, he decided to speak out. “I could hear the word ‘paparazzi, paparazzi,’ but actually I knew that there were no photographers, I knew that there was nobody else up there,” he said.

By the time they arrived he had left the scene, according to his evidence. He got in touch with the Ritz Hotel, which passed his details on to police who soon asked him for an interview.
He reluctantly gave them a statement on September 1 1997 and in April 1998 he also gave a statement to Judge Herve Stephen, the examining magistrate leading the French investigation into the crash.

He told Mr Burnett that French police “looked down on him” when he gave his deposition. During a long period of questioning Mr Burnett raised several examples where the witness had contradicted himself in statements he had given to police, magistrates and the media as well as yesterday’s inquest.
He had changed his story about whether he had seen the Mercedes actually hit the pillar and had also contradicted himself about the speed he was doing when he got onto the expressway, the court was told.

But Mr Levistre insisted that the French authorities had made up parts of his statements – which he had never read properly – in an attempt to discredit him and that what he had told the court yesterday was the truth.

Is this witness credible? The jurors have got a job on their hands, the case continues.
Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris in 1997.


Diana's body 'hidden by Dodi's' One of the first people to reach the scene of the crash which killed Princess Diana has relived the horror at the inquest into her death.
James Huth said he was unable to see the princess because she was trapped so low in the car's footwell and was obscured by Dodi Al Fayed's body. Mr Huth said he tried to calm the princess's bodyguard, Trevor Rees, who was injured in the car and "panicking". He spoke via a video-link from Paris, where the crash happened in 1997.

Taking pictures

Mr Huth told the inquest jury sitting at the High Court in London that Mr Rees's jaw was hanging loose. He said he called the emergency services but told them there were only three people in the car, including one survivor. Mr Huth, a former dentist turned film-maker, also told the jury he witnessed a paparazzo fighting with a bystander in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel minutes after the crash and before the emergency services arrived.

"The man was trying to catch his camera, he was screaming that he didn't have the right to take pictures," he said.
Mr Huth said he heard the sound of screeching tyres and two distinct smashing sounds while he was sitting in his parents' apartment on the banks of the River Seine, above the Pont de l'Alma Tunnel. The jury heard how he ran out to help and was at the scene within two minutes.

Cowboy boot

"When I approached the car, there was smoke and the sound of the horn," he said. "I saw the two air bags that were open. The driver unfortunately had his head inside and it wasn't moving.
"He was supposedly dead, and this guy was panicking on the right, he had his jaw hanging and he was panicking."
"He was trying to move and I talked to him and told him in French to stay quiet, that it was going to be OK, that people were going to take care of him and he had to just try to be quiet, to calm down."

He said two men approached the car and tried to open the door, but he stopped them.

'Tricky' tunnel

It was then that he looked in the back and saw Mr Al Fayed's body. "I saw the broken leg, that I remember clearly, of a man in blue jeans I guess, with a double fracture under the knee and a boot like a cowboy's," he said. "I didn't see what I learned after - that there was another person underneath, the princess."
The High Court heard that by 1997, Mr Huth's family had lived by the tunnel - which he described as "tricky" - for more than 20 years and while they had witnessed many accidents, there had been none like that.

A section from Mr Huth's original police statement was read to the court. It said: "Having known the location for 20 years, I cannot think of why a car driving that fast would have to brake at that point unless there was something in its way."

To be cont.................
Diana 'rumours' on night of crash.
There were rumours that Diana, Princess of Wales, was to announce a pregnancy or engagement to Dodi Al Fayed on the night she died, an inquest has heard.

A photographer said in a statement that on 30 August 1997, paparazzi outside the Ritz Hotel in Paris were told to expect an imminent announcement. The jury also heard evidence from a chauffeur who said he had seen Princess Diana in the back of the crashed car. She had her eyes open and was apparently conscious, he said. The Mercedes carrying Diana and Mr Al Fayed crashed in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel while being followed by paparazzi.

In a statement, chauffeur Eric Lifalandry said he had been driving past the tunnel shortly after the crash, and had stopped to assist. He said he had seen people tending to the front-seat passenger, bodyguard Trevor Rees, and a female passenger in the back - although he did not realise it was Diana. His statement, read to the court, said: "I looked in the back of the car and saw a woman on the floor with her back against the rear right-hand door as someone was attending to her. "I then noticed her open her eyes, I said to myself that she was alive, and then went on to the driver. "I saw his white hand. I knew that he was dead. I couldn't see his face."

Photographer called

The inquest also heard how photographer Thierry Orban, of the Sigma picture agency, told police that between 2100 and 2130 on 30 August he had been asked by his chief editor to go to the hotel specifically because news was expected. His statement, which was read to the jury, said: "He told me that there were rumours of an announcement that Lady Diana was getting married or having a baby and asked me to go to the Ritz Hotel."
It went on to say that later, in the early hours of 31 August, he was called again and went to the Pont de l'Alma tunnel after the crash. Mr Orban said he had remained there until Princess Diana's ambulance left. He said he had photographed the ambulance when it stopped just a short distance from the Pitie Salpetriere Hospital, when the princess's condition deteriorated sharply. He said: "The ambulance stopped, the driver got out and got into the back, that was when I took the only photograph of the ambulance, which in any case was blurry.

"It was rocking as if they were doing cardiac massage. Then the ambulance carried on to the Pitie Salpetriere Hospital." A statement by British solicitor Gary Hunter, who was staying at the Royal Alma Hotel near the scene of the crash, was read to the court. Mr Hunter, who has since died, said in his statement that he had heard an "almighty crash", and had spotted two cars travelling at an "inordinate speed". He said that when he looked out of the window again minutes later, he thought he had seen a white Mercedes and a small black car speeding away from the tunnel before turning out of his sight. He said the white Mercedes was almost touching the rear bumper of the small dark vehicle and that led him to believe that the white car was somehow trying to shielding the rear of the small black car.

Motorcycle speed

Severine Peyret, a passenger in a Saab convertible driven by her then boyfriend, told the inquest that she heard the sound of the crash in the tunnel behind them and then saw a motorcycle speed past them at a "tres grande vitesse" - a very high speed. Mrs Peyret said she concluded that the motorcycle was somehow involved in the crash, which neither she or her boyfriend - now her husband - witnessed. "I quickly understood that the motorcycle could have been implied in the collision and that its rider was trying to get away from the place," she told police in a statement.

She was unable to describe the type of motorcycle, but said there was only one person onboard.

LIGHT: Diana Inquest
Thursday October 18,2007

By Richard Palmer Royal Correspondent
AN American businessman who was in a taxi overtaken by Princess Diana's Mercedes described last night seeing a "significant flash of light" a second before the crash. Brian Anderson said he saw the Mercedes being pursued by at least three motorcycles a few hundred yards before it reached the Alma tunnel. And then suddenly, after they disappeared from view, there was a "pretty significant flash of light". He said the light appeared to come from towards the front and left of his car - perhaps from boats on the River Seine - as it sped towards the tunnel on the riverside expressway.

"I saw the flash of light, which again it didn't strike me at the time because it's where the illumination of the boats takes place along buildings, but a pretty significant flash of light," he said. "I was looking away to my right and I saw it illuminating from my left side." Asked again whether it had come from near the boats moored on the Seine, he replied: "Yes, it came from that vicinity and that direction." A second later, he heard what sounded like an explosion and the impact of the crash. He described the sequence. "Flash.

Audio noise. It was a very large noise that sounded like an explosion. There was a half second/second between them," he said. Mr Anderson, 53, giving evidence by video link from California, told the court that his taxi driver then slammed on his brakes, coming to a halt between 40 and 100 yards from the tunnel entrance.
"We came to a rapid stop and I slid forward into the seat and saw an object passing in front of us and into the right side of the tunnel. I knew it was a large metal object.

It was the black Mercedes," he said. Seconds earlier, he had seen the Mercedes driving rapidly in the left lane of the carriageway down the expressway with three motorbikes just behind it, one on either side and another slightly further back.
In a statement to police, he described the scene memorably: "The bikes were in a cluster like a swarm around the Mercedes." One of the bikes had two riders and the others had just one, he said. After the initial shock, he told the court, his taxi driver eased his way past the wreckage. Inside the tunnel, he thought he saw one of the motorbikes parked just in front of the mangled Mercedes.

On Monday, the court heard evidence from Francois Levistre, who told how he had seen a bright flash of light in the tunnel, which he said had come from two men on a motorbike overtaking the Mercedes.
1 Reactions
Top Bottom