Diana, Princess of Wales - Crash Inquiry Final Report

Issued by the Paris Prosecutor

Examining Magistrate:
Ms Christine DEVIDAL



Public Prosecutor of the French Republic

No. of entry: GG
No. of case: 97 245 3009/9
No. of preliminary investigation: 65/97


The Public Prosecutor of the French Republic, at the court of the First Instance,

Having examined the following enquiry against:

1) ARNAL Serge
D.O.B. 10th August 1961 in PARIS 12th district
Parents: Elie and Suzanne GENTILLET
Nationality: French
Freelance Photographer
Residing at:
25, rue de l'Eglise
Charged: 2nd September 1997 (D796)
Placed in custody: 02/09/97 to 21/10/97

2) ARSOV Nikola
D.O.B. 20th April 1959 in SKOPJE (Yugoslavia)
Parents: Jordan and Ladjdovska ARSOV
Residing at:
46, rue Paul Vaillant Couturier
Charged: 2nd September 1997 (D797)

3) DARMON Stéphane
D.O.B. 27th May 1965 in PARIS 1st district
Parents: André and Suzy GUEZ
Residing at:
7-9, rue Gaston Charles - P.O. Box No 49
Charged: 2nd September 1997 (D806)
Placed in custody: 02/09/97 to 21/10/97

4) LANGEVIN Jacques
D.O.B. 21st September 1953 in LAVAL (MAYENNE)
Parents: Marcel and Georgette AGUILLE
Freelance photographer
Residing at:
1 bis, avenue Georges Clémenceau
Charged: 2nd September 1997 (D803)
Placed in custody: 02/09/97 to 13/10/97

5) MARTINEZ Christian
D.O.B. 15th May 1954 in PARIS 12th district
Parents: François and Jeanine MORAND
Press photographer
Residing at:
4, place de Lattre de Tassigny
Charged: 2nd September 1997 (D813)
Date of order: 2nd September 1997

6) RAT Romuald
D.O.B. 17th September 1971 in LE RAINCY (SEINE SAINT DENIS)
Parents: Michel and Marie-France GAUTREAU
Residing at:
33, avenue Raspail
Charged: 2nd September 1997 (D809)
Date of order: 2nd September 1997

7) VERES Laslo
D.O.B. 1st December 1943 in BECEJ (Yugoslavia)
Parents: Pal and Ilona SABO
Residing at:
92, avenue du Président Wilson
Charged: 2nd September 1997 (D800)

D.O.B. 8th March 1971 in CRETEUIL (94)
Parents: Jean and Josiane DEBUYSERE
Freelance photographer
Residing at:
19, rue Raynouard
75016 PARIS
Date of order: 2nd September 1997

9) CHASSERY Fabrice
D.O.B. 16th March 1967 in PARIS 12th district
Parents: Jean and Nicole PETON
Freelance photographer
Residing at:
12, rue de l'Est
Charged: 5th September 1997 (D1299)
Date of order: 5th September 1997

10) BENAMOU Serge
D.O.B. 15th September 1953 in SAIDA (Algeria)
Parents: Paul and Charlotte BENSOUSSAN
Residing at:
14, rue Simon Dereure
75018 PARIS
Charged: 5th September 1997 (D1305)
Placed in custody: 05/09/97 to 22/10/97

Under investigation charged with:

failing to assist people in danger
involuntary homicide involuntary injury,
ITT more than three months

Public Prosecutor's charge of 2nd September 1997 (D792)


Mr Jean PAUL
Mrs Jean PAUL
represented by : Mr Jean Pierre BRIZAY

Mr Mohammed AL FAYED
represented by: Mr Bernard DARTEVELLE and MR Georges KIEJMAN

Mrs Francis SHAND-KYDD
represented by: Mr Alain TOUCAS

represented by : Mr Christian CURTIL


Initial Findings

(D706 -D709)
At 0.26 hrs on August 31, 1997, the switchboard at Paris fire brigade headquarters received a code-18 emergency call informing them of a serious traffic accident in the Pont d'Alma tunnel in Paris's 8th arrondissement.

A few minutes later, a police patrol on Cours Albert 1er consisting of officers Lino GAGLIADORNE and Sebastian DORZEE, patrolling Cours Albert 1er, was told of the accident by passers by and made their way to the scene.

The first Paris fire brigade crew arrived at the scene at 0.32 hrs.

Inside the tunnel, in the Concorde-Boulogne lane, police and rescue services discovered a black Mercedes vehicle, type S280, registration number 680 LTV75. The vehicle was badly damaged and had come to rest against the outer wall of the tunnel, facing in the opposite direction to the normal flow of traffic.

Four people were found inside the vehicle

- Lady Diana SPENCER, who had been sitting in the rear right passenger seat, was still conscious and crouched on the floor of the vehicle with her back to the road.

- At her side, stretched out on the rear seat, was Emad AL FAYED, who had been sitting in the rear left passenger seat and appeared to be dead. Nevertheless, fire officers were still trying - in vain - to resuscitate him when he was pronounced dead by a doctor at 1.30hrs.

- In the front of the vehicle was the driver, Henri PAUL, the deputy security manager at the Ritz hotel, who had been killed immediately and was declared dead on removal from the wreckage.

- The front passenger was Trevor REES JONES, a body guard in the employment of the Al FAYED family, who was still conscious and had suffered serious multiple injuries to the face.

The two forward passengers' airbags had functioned normally.

Three people attended to the casualties: Dr Frédéric MAILLEZ, a doctor with "SOS Médécin", and two volunteer fire officers, Dominique DALBY and a second who is unnamed. All three had been driving in the opposite direction, and on seeing the wrecked car, had stopped to go spontaneously to the aid of its occupants.

In the tunnel, among the onlookers who had gathered around the vehicle, several photographers were in action.

(D1602 - D1606)
The two police officers, GAGLIARDONE and DORZEE, had trouble keeping the onlookers at bay in order to secure the scene and all the first witnesses reported that the photographers, who had arrived at the scene almost immediately, had pushed around the vehicle for the sole purpose of taking pictures of the casualties.

Autopsy Conclusions

(D789 - D6858)
Autopsy examination concluded that Henri PAUL and Emad AL FAYED had both suffered a rupture in the isthmus of the aorta and a fractured spine, with, in the case of Henri PAUL, a medullar section in the dorsal region and in the case of Emad AL FAYED a medullar section in the cervical region.

(D6833 - D6821)
Lady Diana Spencer received pre-hospital intensive care treatment, both while she was trapped in the wreckage, from which she was finally released at 1am, and during her transfer by ambulance, until her arrival at Pitie Salpetriere hospital at 2.06hrs.

However, despite intensive surgical intervention, doctors had no option but to declare her dead at 4am.

The report submitted by professors Dominique LECOMTE and Andre LIENHART concluded that the cause of death was a wound to the upper left pulmonary vein, together with a rupture to the pericardium. The experts believed that it was exceptional for a patient who had suffered such serious intra-thoracic lesions to reach hospital alive, resuscitation had been in accordance with pre-hospitalisation regulations. According to the experts, the surgical team was beyond reproach, and no other surgical, anaesthetic or resuscitation strategy could have prevented deterioration in the condition of the patient.

The same experts pointed to the obviously traumatic origin of the injuries to the three victims, stating that those suffered by the first two were frequently observed in severe crash cases, head-on with extreme deceleration, while those to Lady Diana SPENCER were more unusual and could probably be explained by the victim's sideways position at the moment of impact.

The opening of the enquiry ....

The Paris Prosecution Department, which immediately sent a representative to the scene, entrusted the enquiry of the case to the Paris police crime squad. It is in these conditions that several press photographers: Christian MARTINEZ, from the Angely Agency, Romuald RAT from the Gamma Agency, Stéphane DARMON, his companion, Jacques LANGEVIN, from the Sygma Agency, Serge ARNAL, from the Steels Press Agency, Laslo VERES, independent photographer and Nikola ARSOV, from the Sipa Presse, were taken in for questioning because of their attitude at the scene.

By Public Prosecutor's charge dated 2nd September 1997, the Paris Prosecution Department asked for an enquiry to be opened against the above named for failing to give assistance to persons in danger and, against unnamed person, for homicide and involuntary injury.

(D796 - D797 - D800 - D803 - D809 - D813)
However the examining magistrate named to lead these proceeding put under investigation all the people who were brought before him for all the charges listed in the initial charge.

(D1299 - D1302 - D1305)
As three photographers had left the scene before the police arrived, Fabrice CHASSERY, David ODEKERKEN and Serge BENAMOU, all independent photographers, reported to the crime squad offices on 4th September 1997 and, on 5th September 1997, were put under investigation for the same charges by the investigating magistrate.

The paths explored by the enquiry:

-The enquiry, which was finally entrusted to two examining magistrates by the Presiding Judge of the Court of Paris, because of the extent and complexity of the investigations to be carried out, was going to clarify the context in which the photographers had followed the Mercedes in which the couple were travelling and the affect of their presence on the behaviour of the driver of the vehicle immediately before the accident.

-In addition, the preliminary investigation file had to identify and examine the attitude adopted by these same photographers in the moments which immediately preceded the accident.

-The enquiry was also going to look into the conditions in which Henri PAUL had taken the wheel of the Mercedes carrying the couple on the evening of 31st August 1997

(D816 - D828 -D1329 - D1332 - D1342 - D1519 - D1522 - D1524)
On this particular point, numerous experts' reports examined following the autopsy on the body of Henri PAUL rapidly showed the presence of a level of pure alcohol per litre of blood of between 1.73 and 1.75 grams, which is far superior, in all cases, than the legal level.

Similarly, these analyses revealed as those carried out on samples of the hair and bone marrow of the deceased, that he regularly consumed Prozac and Tiapridal, both medicines which are not recommended for drivers, as they provoke a change in the ability to be vigilant, particularly when they are taken in combination with alcohol.

Finally, the amount of transferrin in the blood showed a level of 32 UI/l [?], compatible, according to the experts with a chronic alcoholism over the course of at least a week.

- Finally the investigations which were carried out both at the scene and on the vehicle itself, allowed for the hypothesis of a possible collision with another vehicle.

(D5433 to D5829 - D5969)
The Mercedes S280, in which the passengers were found, belonged to the company Etoile Limousine and had been hired by this company to the Ritz hotel, its only client. It was examined by the experts from the Institut de Recherche Criminelle de la Gendarmerie Nationale (I.R.C.G.N.), then by NIBODEAU-FRINDEL and AMOUROUX, the experts commissioned by the examining magistrates, who all concluded that it had a low mileage and was in perfect mechanical and working order.

Jean-François MUSA, manager of Etoile Limousine, confirmed that, on 31st August, it did not have any trace of accidental damage or scratches.

Now the investigations showed traces of whitish colour both on the front right wing and on the body of the right wing mirror, found further on in the tunnel.

The additional research carried out by I.R.C.G.N. showed traces, both on the front right wing and on the body of the wing mirror, which came from the same vehicle, whose technical characteristics corresponded to a vehicle make Fiat "Uno", white in colour, built in Italy in the period 1983 to the end of August 1987.

In addition, some red and white optical debris found on the right hand lane, 7 or 8 metres from the entrance to the Alma tunnel were described as also coming from a rear light of a vehicle make Fiat "Uno", built in Italy in the period May 1983 to September 1989.

The arrival in Paris of the couple Diana SPENCER and Emad AL FAYED:

The arrival of the couple in Paris and their movements during the day of 30th August 1997 mobilised a growing number of press photographers.

Lady Diana SPENCER, Princess of Wales, and her friend, Emad AL FAYED, had landed at Le Bourget airport in the morning of the 30th August 1997 from Sardinia, at the end of a Mediterranean cruise, where they had been followed by a great number of the world's press.

The couple were accompanied by two English bodyguards, employed by the private security of the AL FAYED family, Trevor REES JONES and Alexander WINGFIELD.

Two vehicles were waiting for them, a Range Rover which was driven by Henri PAUL, deputy security manager of the Ritz hotel, owned by the father of Emad AL FAYED, Mohammed AL FAYED, and a Mercedes 600, driven by Philippe DOURNEAU, Mohammed AL FAYED's official driver when he was in France.

The Princess had not advised the British Embassy of her presence in France and had not requested any particular protection from the French authorities.

The press was present from their arrival: at the airport were: Fabrice CHASSERY, at the wheel of a charcoal grey Peugeot 205, registration no. 5816 WJ 92, David ODEKERKEN was driving a beige Mitsubishi "Pajero" 4/4, registration no.520 LPZ75, Romuald RAT and his driver, Stéphane DARMON, on a dark blue Honda motorcycle, registration no. 302 LXT75 and Alain GUIZARD, from the Angely Agency, was in a grey-blue Peugeot 205, registration no.3904 ZR 92, accompanied by three press motorcyclists from the same agency.

After a detour to one of the residences of the AL FAYED family, the Windsor villa, situated on the Bois de Boulogne, Lady Diana SPENCER and Emad AL FAYED went to the Ritz hotel.

(D1043 - D2473 -D1052)
During the different journeys, the photographers ended up losing sight of the vehicles and only Alexander WINGFIELD recalled the dangerous behaviour of some of them on the road. Trevor REES JONES and Philippe DOURNEAU, on the other hand, testified that the photographers had always remained behind the Range Rover.

At about 18.00hrs the couple, still in the Mercedes driven by Philippe DOURNEAU, returned to the AL FAYED family hotel, rue Arsène Houssaye, very close to the Arc de Triomphe, while Jean-François MUSA replaced Henri PAUL at the wheel of the Range Rover.

Numerous photographers had again started to follow them at that moment, and, according to Trevor REES JONES, he had asked them not to take photos during the journey, a request which they respected.

(D2173 - D2178 - D1043 - D2020 - D1633)
However there were still more of them as the couple's car turned into rue Arsène Houssaye, and there was then a jostling, followed by an incident between Romuald RAT and the security personnel, an incident which was quickly resolved by the intervention of Trevor REES JONES and Alexander WINGFIELD.

As well as the photographers who were already present since Le Bourget, there were in front of the building in the rue Arsène Houssaye, Serge BENAMOU and Lalso VERES, who were both riding their scooters, as well as Christian MARTINEZ and Serge ARNAL , who had come in the latter's car, a Fiat black "UNO", registration no. 444 JNB 75.

During this time Henri PAUL, who was not on duty that evening, had left the Ritz hotel at about 19.00hrs, telling the security guard, François TENDIL, that he could always be reached on his mobile telephone.

Claude ROULET, the assistant of Franck Klein, the manager of the Ritz hotel, who was not in Paris at that time, had, at the request of Emad AL FAYED, reserved a table for the couple in a restaurant in the capital, where he had gone to wait for them.

He cancelled this reservation at about 21.00, as Emad AL FAYED informed him that, because of the crowds of journalists they were dining at the Ritz, in the hope of getting some more peace.

Despite these precautions, when the Mercedes and the Range Rover arrived at Place Vendôme, the photographers had followed them from the rue Arsène Houssaye, and in front of the hotel there was a big crowds of curious onlookers and journalists.

As the couple left their vehicle belatedly there was a crush at the moment when they entered the hotel.

(D1043 - D5073)
This situation annoyed Emad AL FAYED, as testified by Trevor REES JONES and Alexander WINGFIELD, who added that, not being made aware of the change of programme until the journey to the Ritz, they were unable to anticipate the difficulties.

Trevor REES JONES even stated: "Dodi took an active part in security arrangements, he was the boss and in addition we did not know the programme in advance, only he knew the programme."

Henri PAUL was informed of the incident by François TENDIL, who took the initiative to return to the hotel, where he reported at 22.07 hrs, as seen by the hotel surveillance camera.

Then he joined the two English body guards at the bar where he consumed two glasses of "Ricard".

The change in the programme: the diversionary tactics decide by Emad AL FAYED:

As soon as he arrived at the Ritz, Emad AL FAYED, for his part, called Thierry ROCHER, the night manager of the hotel to inform him of the situation.

Learning from the latter that Henri PAUL had returned, he asked him to tell him that they needed a third vehicle, placed in rue Cambon, at the back of the building, to return to rue Arsène Houssaye, and that the two vehicles used by the couple during the day would stay in Place Vendôme to create a diversion.

(D1043 - D5073 - D2473)
Trevor REES JONES and Alexander WINGFIELD confirmed that the decision to use a third vehicle had been taken by Emad AL FAYED and that it was he who had asked Henri PAUL to drive it.

Emad AL FAYED had in addition stipulated that Trevor REES JONES should accompany them.

The two bodyguards explained that they had expressed their disagreement with these arrangements, but only in as far as they were to separate.

None of them, however expressed any reservations on the capability of Henri PAUL to drive. They stated that nothing in his behaviour lead them to think that he was drunk and they claimed that they had not seen the types of drinks that he had had.

(D2144 -D2156 - D2159 - D2169 -D2136)
In fact, of the four employees in charge of the bar that evening, only Alain WILLAUMEZ noted that Henri PAUL was drunk; Thierry ROCHER, who went to tell Henri PAUL the instructions from Emad AL FAYED found that his behaviour was completely normal.

He stated that Henri PAUL had replied that "he was going to finish his "Ricard" with the English".

The results of the analyses, notably of the amount of transferrin, showed the existence of a certain amount chronic alcoholism and the testimony of one of his closest friends, Dr Dominique MELO revealed that it was not an isolated problem, as the latter had consulted him a year and a half previously about the matter.

The enquiry was not able to establish formally is the employers of Henri PAUL were in a position to know about this aspect of his personality: apart from the testimony of Alain WILLAUMEZ, none of the other professional colleagues of Henri PAUL had heard anything about this subject. He did have the reputation of being someone who "enjoyed life".

He had been employed at the Ritz since 1985 and was well liked by the management.

(D1011 - D1020 - D2213)
On a private level his best friends, his ex girlfriend, his neighbours, all painted a portrait of a man who was both "shy" and at the same time "enjoyed life". No-one seemed to have noticed the existence of a problem linked to alcohol.

In fact, if the appointment of Henri PAUL as the driver poses a problem about the awareness of his state on the evening in question and his intemperance, it should also lead to an examination of the conditions in which it had been decided to resort to a vehicle from the company Etoile Limousine, whose fleet was made up of high powered cars, necessitating to drive them, the possession of a special licence, which Mr Henri PAUL did not possess.

(D1023 - D4936)
On this point the versions of the Ritz management and Jean François MUSA, the manager of Etoiles Limousine, diverge : Jean François MUSA claimed that he had expressed reticence when he heard that Henri PAUL would drive the car, notably because he did not have an ad hoc licence, but no witness confirms this point.

Jean François MUSA, who however admitted still allowing the use of the vehicle, despite knowing that Henri PAUL was to drive it, justified this by reason of the fact that he could not refuse what was asked of him.

Now, examining the nature of the commercial links which united the Ritz - Jean-François MUSA used to drive for the Ritz - to the Etoile Limousine company, one can see the total dependence of the Etoile Limousine company on the Ritz, its only client, which put it in competition with another company offering identical services - the MURDOCH company.

Finally, it is worth remembering that during the day Jean-François MUSA had been used to drive the Range Rover for Emad AL FAYED and that the same Jean-François MUSA, who did not belong officially to the staff of the Ritz, had been used on different occasions in the same conditions, as if he were still an employee of the hotel.

From a general point of view, even if Emad AL FAYED and the Princess had not gone down to the Ritz, the management and the staff of the institution as a whole were put at the entire disposal from their arrival in Paris and Emad AL FAYED had, as a last resort, the power to decide all matters.

While the diversionary manoeuvre was being prepared, the photographers were still waiting in front of the hotel, in the Place Vendôme, and several more arrived: notably Alain GUIZARD, Jacques LANGEVIN, who arrived in a grey Golf registration no. 3765PL94, and Nikola ARSOV, driving a white BMW motorbike registration 448 BNE 91.

Towards midnight, Philippe DOURNEAU and Jean-Francois MUSA simulated a fake departure, driving around the Place Vendôme in the Mercedes 600 and the Range Rover.

Several journalists noticed that Henri PAUL was behaving unusually towards them that evening, coming to see them, and announcing the departure of the couple as imminent. Several described him as "laughing, particularly jovial".

Frederic LUCARD, the young valet in charge of driving the Mercedes S280 to the Rue Cambon, confirmed the "jovial" discussions between Henri PAUL and the journalists and even added - although he alone described it - that when Henri PAUL took the wheel of the Mercedes in the Rue Cambon, he heard him say to the journalists present: "Don't try to follow us, you'll never catch us".

Anticipating the possibility of the couple's exit by the rear of the building, Serge BENAMOU, Jacques LANGEVIN, Fabrice CHASSERY and Alain GUIZARD went to the Rue Cambon and watched both the arrival of the Mercedes S280 and the departure of the couple.

They then warned Romuald RAT, Christian MARTINEZ, Serge ARNAL and David ODEKERKEN , who had stayed in front of the hotel.

Jacques LANGEVIN, Fabrice CHASSERY and Serge BENAMOU took a few pictures of the couple, then the Mercedes left at speed.

It was then 12.20am on the hotel's surveillance camera clock in the Rue Cambon.

The drive from the Ritz to Alma:

Among those under investigation, several confirmed they had followed the same path as the Mercedes.

(D1636 - D1720 - D1710 - D1700 - D5033)
Thus, Romuald RAT, Stéphane DARMON, Serge ARNAL and Christian MARTINEZ claimed that after a red light in the Place de la Concorde, the Mercedes accelerated to a very high speed along the river, and that they rapidly lost sight of it.

They had then slowed down at the exit of the first tunnel, thinking that the Mercedes might have turned off, but they continued along the road, only seeing the Mercedes again, this time involved in the accident, as they approached the Alma tunnel.

(D1731 - D5033)
Serge BENAMOU had also followed the river, but rapidly left behind, he had taken the first tunnel exit and arrived at the Place de l'Alma.

(D1688 - D4745 - D5033)
Jacques LANGEVIN meanwhile explained that his car had been parked in the Rue Cambon, and after a detour through the Place Vendôme, he had decided to go to meet friends for dinner. It was by chance, and some time later, that he followed the same road as the Mercedes.

(D1648 - D5033)
David ODEKERKEN found himself behind the Mercedes until the Concorde red traffic light. He claimed he had then decided not to follow further. He saw the Mercedes depart in a whirlwind, followed by Serge ARNAL's vehicle, and he was then overtaken by Romuald RAT and Stéphane DARMON. He explained that to get to his home he had also by chance followed the Mercedes' route.

Consequently, none of the photographers admit that they "chased" the car carrying the couple, nor that they had impeded his progress or taken pictures en route. None of the negatives seized from the photographers show pictures taken on the journey. Nor did any of them admit to having been close enough to the Mercedes to have witnessed in the actual accident.

There were three photographers under investigation who claimed not even to have tried to follow the Mercedes:

Laslo VERES stayed in front of the Ritz and only learned of the accident later in a phone call from Serge BENAMOU. His story was confirmed by the Ritz surveillance cameras, which established that at 12.26am he was still in front of the hotel.

-Fabrice CHASSERY declared that, in agreement with David ODEKERKEN, he had decided to not follow the car and that from the Place de la Concorde he had taken the Champs Elysées, where a call from David ODEKERKEN informed him of the accident.

-Finally Nicola ARSOV had stayed in front of the Ritz with some other photographers, including Pierre HOUNSFIELD, and had finally followed the Range Rover and the Mercedes 600 until the Champs Elysées, then avenue Wilson, where he had left these two vehicles and turned into Cours Albert 1er to arrive at the Place de l'Alma.

In fact the critical examination of the accounts of the persons questioned does not allow them to be radically called into question . . .

(D5293 - D7087 - D5969)
- In fact, as regards first of all Romuald RAT and Stéphane DARMON, the experts' reports comparing the speed of the different vehicles established that over 1400 metres, or the distance between the Avenue Champs Elysées and the Pont de l'Alma, their motorcycle was slower than the Mercedes.

- As for Serge BENAMOU, who was driving a scooter, the question did not arise, and the same can be said for Serge ARNAL, whose Fiat "Uno" could not be compared with the Mercedes.

The moment's hesitation mentioned by Romuald RAT, Stéphane DARMON, Christian MARTINEZ and Serge ARNAL at the exit of the first tunnel seems logical, in as far as the exit towards the Place de l'Alma allowed access to the Avenue Marceau and to thus follow directly on to the Rue de Presbourg and the Rue Arsène Houssaye. This was moreover the route, which Philippe DOURNEAU was taking in his Mercedes 600.

(D136 - D1459 - D1087 - D2352 - D141)
In addition, if some witnesses noted the presence of motorcycles behind the Mercedes, or even their annoying behaviour during the journey between the Place de la Concorde and the Alma tunnel, they did not state either the number or the type.

(D1418 - D1426 - D1532 - D1536 - D2377 - D2363 - D1422 - D1448 - D1529)
Finally the witnesses situated, at the moment of the accident, opposite the entrance to the tunnel, definitely noticed a motorcycle, but whereas according to some of them it was following the Mercedes closely, according to others, it did not arrive until after the accident. Above all they proved incapable of describing it with a minimum of details.

- The explanations of David ODEKERKEN and Fabrice CHASSERY were not totally convincing as Romuald RAT, Stéphane DARMON, Serge ARNAL, Christian MARTINEZ and Serge BENAMOU confirmed having seen them behind the Mercedes at the red traffic light at la Concorde.

Furthermore it is difficult to understand why professionals reputed to be "persistent" and who had already waited for hours would have given up in this manner.

But, there again, the presence of the David ODEKERKEN quite distinctive vehicle was, however, neither noticed by the witnesses to the journey nor by the witnesses to the accident.

In addition, on the list of telephone calls made, a call by David ODEKERKEN to Fabrice CHASSERY at 00.24:05, or at a time which corresponds to minutes after the accident, is identified, which would tend to confirm that they had separated, perhaps in order to better "cover" all the possible routes.

- If the statements made by Nikola ARSOV do not correspond to the route described by Philippe DOURNEAU, as being the one that he would have followed, one cannot deduce with certainty that he had set off in pursuit of the Mercedes.

(D2612 -D2392)
On the one hand the testimony of Pierre HOUNSFIELD, another reporter present in front of the Ritz, confirmed that Nikola ARSOV had left the Place Vendôme too late to be found immediately behind the Mercedes and, on the other hand, if a witness, Jean-Louis BONNIN, stated that he had been overtaken on the right bank [of the Seine] by a motorcycle with a number plate "91", like that of Nikola ARSOV, he described two people on the motorcycle, when it has been established that Nikola ARSOV was driving alone.

(D1057 - D5003)
- As for Jacques LANGEVIN, his position was only called into question by Alain GUIZARD, who, in his first statement, had explained that he had seen Jacques LANGEVIN's Golf in the group of vehicles behind the Mercedes at the traffic light on the Place de la Concorde, but, when confronted, had not confirmed this statement.

- Finally, the only survivor of the accident, Trevor REES JONES, suffering from amnesia, had no memory of the part of the journey between the Ritz and the Alma tunnel, and was not able to supply precise information on the progress of the journey.

(D2473 - D4346)
The only thing he could confirm was the presence behind them leaving the Rue Cambon of a scooter and a small light coloured car as well as, at the stop at the traffic lights on Place de la Concorde, the presence of a motorcycle at their sides, before the Mercedes sped off quickly in first position.

In conclusion, it is not possible to determine exactly which of the people under examination who followed the Mercedes for the whole of the journey right up to the place of the accident, as a doubt exists on this point with regard to Fabrice CHASSERY and Nikola ARSOV.

As for those who had taken the same route as the Mercedes, their behaviour on the road nor the exact speed is not known precisely.

And even if it is undeniable that they arrived in the tunnel a very short time after the accident, one cannot estimate with any certainty what distance they were away from the Mercedes at the moment where the latter sped into the tunnel.

Finally, taking account of the technical findings of the I.R.C.G.N. experts, one can state that none of the vehicles used by the people under examination corresponds to the Fiat "Uno" which is likely to have been in collision with the Mercedes.

The analysis of the causes and the liability with regard to the crimes of homicide and voluntary [sic.] injury:

First of all, as far as the possible role played in the accident by a Fiat "Uno", the existence of which was revealed by the traces found on the Mercedes, the experts' reports have underlined that, in every hypothesis, its role could only have been a passive one.

(D2359 - D2371)
The driver of this Fiat "Uno" has not been able to be identified, despite extremely long and detailed investigations which have been lead by the enquiry team, who only had, to direct their research the witness statements of a couple of drivers, who, at approximately the time which could correspond to the accident, told of the abnormal behaviour of the driver of a Fiat "Uno" crossing the Place de l'Alma in the direction of Boulogne.

Interrogated about the circumstances of the collision between this unknown Fiat "Uno" and the Mercedes S280, the I.R.C.G.N. experts indicated that it was a collision 'three quarters behind', and that at the moment of contact between the two vehicles the speed of the Mercedes was faster than that of the Fiat "Uno".

(D5433 to D5829)
The experts NIBODEAU-FRINDEL and AMOUROUX, for their part, concluded that the contact between the Mercedes and the Fiat "Uno" only consisted of a simple scrape, which had not lead to a significant reduction in speed by the Mercedes.

The speed at which the Mercedes was travelling was described as very fast by all the witnesses, both during the journey along the banks [of the Seine] and at the moment when it entered the tunnel.

Mr NIBODEAU-FRINDEL and Mr AMOUROUX estimated the speed of the Mercedes, before the collision at a total of between a maximum of 155 km/hour and a minimum of 118 km/hour and the speed, at the moment of the crash on the thirteenth pillar of the Alma tunnel was between 95 and 109 km/hour with a margin of error of more or less 10%.

They attributed the direct causes of the accident to this excessive speed which, taking account of the particular profile of the road, had rendered the vehicle difficult to control, all the more so because of the presence of the Fiat "Uno" at the entrance of the tunnel and the fact that the driver of the Mercedes had a very poor control of his vehicle.

They finally stated that Emad AL FAYED and Lady Diana SPENCER would have survived if they had fastened their safety belts.

Consequently from all of the investigations lead and from the different expert reports it transpires that the direct cause of the accident is the presence, at the wheel of the Mercedes S280, of a driver who had consumed a considerable amount of alcohol, combined with the fact that he had recently taken medication, driving at a speed not only faster than the maximum speed limit in built up areas, but excessive when taking account of the layout of the places and the predictable obstacles, notably the presence on his right of a vehicle moving at a slower pace.

Therefore the loss of control of the vehicle by the driver in the Alma tunnel constitutes the main cause of the accident.

Now, any possibility of pursuing this case is extinguished by the very fact of its previous demise by setting in motion of the public action.

Therefore, in these conditions it remains that the criminal liability of those persons under examination for homicide and involuntary injuries can only be considered in terms of indirect cause since the direct cause of the accident has thus been established.

In other words, the question is knowing whether the fact that a certain number of photographers had undertaken to follow the vehicle carrying Diana SPENCER and Emad AL FAYED played a contributory role, and a clear contributory role, by creating psychological conditions whereby the driver felt constrained to drive at an excessive speed.

This supposes first of all, therefore, that the photographers had "pursued" the vehicle.

Now it is observed that, for the duration of the day, if the growing presence of the photographers did legitimately irritate the Princess and her companion, it was not unexpected, given the extreme media coverage of their relationship, nor, given the amount of means and personnel at their disposal, an event which had left them completely helpless.

The presence of these photographers during the day, although undesirable, had not manifested itself in dangerous practices, nor in recourse to ruses or subterfuges, all the photos taken showing clearly scenes in public.

Taking account of these elements, it is not possible to support the view that this general context constitutes a hounding of the couple by the photographers.

Secondly, this supposes researching how many photographers had followed the couple, their number being able to play an important role in the creation of a psychological effect on the driver, and who from among the photographers had been able to play this role.

In this regard, a rigorous assessment of the charges against each of the people under examination lead to eliminating Laslo VERES from any responsibility, as it has been established that he had not followed the Mercedes and to not uphold that of Fabrice CHASSERY and Nikola ARSOV for whom there remains some doubt on this point.

Finally, with regard to Romuald RAT, Stéphane DARMON, Serge ARNAL, Christian MARTINEZ, Serge BENAMOU, David ODEKERKEN and Jacques LANGEVIN, it is necessary to determine with certainty if, at the moment when the driver lost control of the vehicle, they were within sight of the Mercedes.

The enquiry not having being able to establish this, one cannot therefore state that their presence provoked such a stress in the driver that it definitely explains the speed taken.

In fact, in the hypothesis of a slower speed, or 118 km/hour, it is rather rash to allude to a "fleeing" behaviour.

The speed adopted by the driver can also clearly be attributed to the presence of alcohol in his blood, the effect of which was increased by the medicines, and thereby characterise the psychological effect of a driver who was totally uninhibited at the wheel of a powerful car and sure of having distanced the photographers.

Consequently, it was not shown that at the moment when the driver lost control of his vehicle, he found himself having to drive at speed, rendering the accident inevitable.

One can only state that there is no clear underlying link between the speed of the vehicle and the presence of photographers following the vehicle.

Therefore the charges of homicide and involuntary injury will be judged as no grounds for prosecution with respect to Romuald RAT, Christian MARTINEZ, Stéphane DARMON, Jacques LANGEVIN, Serge ARNAL, Laslo VERES, Nikola ARSOV, Fabrice CHASSERY, David ODEKERKEN and Serge BENAMOU.

-The establishment of an incidental civil claim for damages by Trevor Rees Jones:

On 23rd September 1998, alongside the preliminary investigation of the case opened on 2nd September 1997, Trevor REES JONES' counsel lodged a claim for damages against X for having put in danger the life of another person, by reason of the fact that, by putting at the Ritz' disposal a powerful car without a driver who held a licence as required by the regulations, the managers of the Etoile Limousine company had directly exposed Trevor REES JONES to the risk of death, mutilation or permanent disability.

This claim was followed on 2nd November 1998 by the opening of an enquiry and, by reason of the connection with the enquiry opened 2nd September 1997, a joinder order was made on 30th November 1998.

This claim could not go ahead, in as far as, on the one hand the crime of having endangered the life of another person is only constituted in the absence of harmful result, which is not the case of Trevor REES JONES, as he presented with numerous traumatic lesions following the accident of 31st August 1997 and the experts commissioned to evaluate the gravity [of his injuries] and determine the resulting ITT, concluded on 2nd October 1997 that the initial ITT was still in course and would not be less than six months (D1736).

On the other hand, in order to establish the crime, it is necessary to show that the manifestly deliberate violation of a particular safety or cautionary obligation imposed by law or regulations has directly exposed another person to an immediate risk of death, mutilation or permanent disability.

One cannot sustain in the matter of the non-respect of the provisions of the decree of the 15th July 1955 and the decree of 18th April 1966, which impose for the driving of high powered vehicles, the possession of a special licence, has directly exposed the plaintiff to an immediate risk of death, mutilation or permanent disability, it being a matter of carrying out a relatively short journey in town, i.e. in a secure road environment and on board a vehicle, certainly high powered, but technically accessible to the holders of a Category B driving licence.

Consequently the claim will be judged as there being no grounds for prosecution.

-After the accident: liability with regard to the crime of failing to come to the aid of people in danger:

In order to come to a decision regarding each of the persons under examination on the imputability of the facts with regard to not coming to the aid of people in danger, first of all requires the establishment, with utmost exactitude, of the time sequence of events after the accident occurred, in order to define the exact period during which they can be legitimately charged with voluntary abstention.

Taking account of the multiplicity of sources of information, which cannot be synchronised with certainty, the sequence of the events has been established based on several factors:

The first source comes from the recording of the security cameras at the Ritz hotel, where the internal clock indicated the departure of the Mercedes from the Rue Cambon at 00.20.

Then come the telephone switchboards of the emergency services:

- at the number "18", the number of the main Fire Station, the first call was received at 00.26, the call from Dr. MAILLEZ who arrived on the scene at almost the same period of time;
- at the number "17", emergency number for the police, the first call was recorded at 00.29:59.

Thirdly, numerous pieces of information were obtained from the listings, supplied by the mobile telephone operators Itinéris and SFR, of all the calls made from a portable telephone on 30th and 31st August 1997, between midnight and one o'clock in the morning, in the Concorde/Vendôme/Alma areas.

(D6135 - D6106)
Thus one finds a first call to "18" at 00.23:43, from Paul CARRIL's mobile, who declared having called as soon as he heard the crash.

(D6132 - D6134 - D159 - D6131 - D6128 - D6127 - D6126 - D6125)
This first call was followed by a number of others both to "18" and to "112", the emergency number which is common to Itinéris and SFR.

In addition the listing mentions, at 00.23, a call from Serge ARNAL's mobile to "12".

Finally the emergency services themselves constitute the last source of information, as the police commander having received the call from the GAGLIARDONE/DORZEE patrol indicated that it was then 00.30, while the report established by the fireman mentioned that the first crew arrived at 00.32.

In spite of an inevitable margin of error, it is accepted therefore that a short time passed between the departure from the Rue Cambon and the occurrence of the accident, as well as the existence, in very quick succession of a large number of calls to the emergency services then the rapid arrival of these services.

Equally one notes that the call from Dr MAILLEZ to the firemen happened a very short time after the accident, which is to be emphasized, as from the moment when the doctor was at the location and took charge of things, the legal obligation to personally act is no longer imposed with the same force for any non specialists present at the scene.

In fact it transpires from the time sequence of the different calls and from the testimony of Mark BUTT, who accompanied Dr MAILLEZ, that when Dr MAILLEZ left his vehicle, which was stopped on the opposite carriageway, to assists the injured, the first policemen had not yet arrived.

It is consequently in the few minutes preceding Dr MAILLEZ's arrival that the attitude of the different people under examination can be usefully considered by piecing together their statements, the analysis of the photos which they took and the statements of the witnesses most directly involved.

In fact, the enquiry was able to piece together the existence of a small group of witnesses present at the scene before the arrival of Dr MAILLEZ, knowing that other onlookers had equally appeared very quickly on the scene, as seen on the photographs, but without being able to be identified.

(D2396 - D6086)
- Belkacem BOUZID and Abdelatif REDJIL, walking in the Place de la Reine Astrid, explained that they rushed into the tunnel as soon as they heard the crash.

Belkacem BOUZID stated that he then saw four photographers in action, among whom he identified Romuald RAT, while Abdelatif REDJIL claimed that they had been the first on the scene, even before a first photographer, who got off a motorcycle and whom he identified as being Romual[d] RAT.

It is worth noting that Adelatif REDJIL could only be heard rather belatedly.

However they are both identifiable on different photos, Belkacem BOUZID, dressed in a mustard coloured jacket and Abdelatif REDJIL in blue jeans and a green jacket (D191, D368, D457).

- Two young people had left a car travelling in the opposite direction to go to the vehicle involved in the accident: Damien DALBY, a voluntary fireman, and his brother Sébastien PENNEQUIN.

(D121 - D1266 - D4928 - D123 - D1259 - D4940)
They explained that at least four photographers were already there, and they identified Romuald RAT, whom they described as kneeling in front of the open back right door, the scene which was found on a photograph by Christian MARTINEZ (DD473).

They heard him shout in the direction of another photographer who was moving away: "she is alive", then saw him push back the other photographers.

After having gone round the car to estimate the state of the injured, Damien DALBY had then seen Dr MAILLEZ, who was taking charge of Lady Diana SPENCER and he himself, together with another unidentified fireman, therefore dealt with Trevor REES JONES (cf. D186, D188, D367, D471, D472 - Damien DALBY being dressed in blue jeans and a blue T shirt and the other volunteer fireman in blue jeans and a blue-grey T shirt).

Sébastien PENNEQUIN stated that he had helped a man to describe the state of the injured, as this man had the firemen on line, thanks to a mobile phone.

This man was James HUTH, who was in a flat in Cours Albert 1er and who explained that he went into the tunnel as soon as he heard the crash.

On photo D470, Sébastien PENNEQUIN appears in a black jacket and black jeans.

(D129 - D132 - D1418)
- Finally Clifford GOOROOVADOO, a limousine driver, who was waiting for his clients at the Place de l'Alma when he heard the crash caused by the accident, stated that at the time he arrived near the vehicle involved in the accident four or five people, of whom three were taking photographs, were near the Mercedes.

He recognised Romuald RAT, whom he described as particularly agitated: "Romuald RAT was everywhere around the car (. . .), he was moving around in all directions" (D5018).

He also said he had seen him argue with Christian MARTINEZ.

He spoke in English to the injured to reassure them and, indeed, he also appears on several photographs (D188, D366, D368, D470, D471).

In addition, during the course of the enquiry, Stéphane DARMON, Serge ARNAL, Christian MARTINEZ, Romuald RAT and Serge BENAMOU admitted that they arrived at the scene of the accident before the arrival of Dr MAILLEZ.

(D238 - D243 - D1720 - D5033)
Stéphane DARMON stated that he was the first to enter the tunnel where he had parked his motorcycle about ten metres in front of the Mercedes, Romuald RAT had got off the machine and had gone towards the car when Serge BENAMOU and Serge ARNAL arrived.

Serge ARNAL informed him that he had called the emergency services.

Stéphane DARMON had moved his motorcycle, then he remained apart [from the others], quite distressed, according to his statement.

(D336 - D348 - D340 - D350 - D1636 - D5033)
-Romuald RAT admitted that, as soon as he got off his motorcycle, he had run towards the Mercedes and taken three photographs. Then he had opened the back right door, taken the princess' pulse and had said to her, as well as to Trevor REES JONES, that "the doctor was on his way". He stated that he had not started to take pictures again until after the arrival of the police (D347). He added that at the moment when he saw the injured and realised the severity of their state, he had heard someone shout: "I have called the emergency services".

On a total of 19 photos taken by Romuald RAT in the tunnel there are certainly three photographs which depict just the Mercedes, it must be added that a non-identified individual is in the shot in two of the photographs (D371, D370) and a man who could be Mr BENAMOU on the third (D369).

Finally, on a fourth photo, which did not show either Dr MAILLEZ or the policemen, but already a number of onlookers (D363).

(D4830 to D4867)
According to the expert DEWOLF, Romuald RAT was the second to take photographs of the Mercedes alone and he never put his camera less than 5 metres from the subjects.

(D168 - D172 -D179 - D1710 - D5033)
- Serge ARNAL stated that he had parked his vehicle in the direction of the exit of the tunnel then had immediately called the emergency services, dialling "112" on his mobile phone. He had a contact on line and, despite a very bad reception, had provided the first pieces of information.

He explained that he had then gone down into the tunnel, where Romuald RAT, Christian MARTINEZ, David ODEKERKEN and Serge BENAMOU were already, and he had taken photos of the Mercedes.

He took 16 photographs in the tunnel, of which 8 featured the Mercedes completely alone (D219 to D226).

According to the expert the photo D226 was certainly, of all the photos seized, the first to be taken immediately after the accident, as the smoke coming from the car can be made out, the lights were on and the driver's air bag was still inflated. The seven photographs after that had been taken by going around the vehicle, from the back to the front.

At the time of taking the following photos, Serge ARNAL had never approached the injured by less than 1.5 metres.

(D420 - D428 - D435 - D438 - D1700 - D5033 - D5013)
Christian MARTINEZ stated that he had left the vehicle of Serge ARNAL with his camera, having seen Romuald RAT at the place and heard someone say "I can't get 12". He thought it was Serge ARNAL.

He had taken some photographs before going, with Serge ARNAL, to move the vehicle of Serge ARNAL, then came back and took more photos.

He was the one who had taken the most, 31 in total, and the expert identified him as the one who had come the closest [to the victims], less than 1.50 metres from Lady Diana SPENCER, notably at the moment when Dr MAILLEZ was attending to her.

On four of these photos Dr MAILLEZ did not appear. (D455, D470, D472, D473).

(D1177 - D1188 - D1206 - D1731 - D5033)
Serge BENAMOU stated that, when he entered the tunnel, in the opposite direction to the traffic, as he was coming from the Place de l'Alma, and that Romuald RAT, Christian MARTINEZ and Serge ARNAL were already near the Mercedes, Serge Arnal told him that he had called the emergency services.

(D1207 to D1216)
Both Dr MAILLEZ and the firemen appear on all the photos belonging to him, which were seized belatedly, as he was not questioned that evening.

(D1134 - D1134 - D1166 - D1648 - D5033)
For his part, David ODEKERKEN stated that he had not parked in the tunnel, when he passed by car, he had seen the first four photographers and, going towards the exit of the tunnel, had passed Stéphane DARMON. Then he called Fabrice CHASSERY and explained that he had not called the emergency services at that moment as he had heard people say that they had already been called.

- Finally Jacques LANGEVIN, Fabrice CHASSERY, Nikola ARSOV and Laslo VERES stated they arrived on the scene much later than the arrival of the emergency services.

(D902 - D413 - D862 - D489 to D499)
It is noted that, policemen and firemen appear on all the photos taken by Fabrice CHASSERY, Jacques LANGEVIN and David ODEKERKEN.

As for Nikola ARSOV, he said that he took some photographs, when the emergency services were present, but his flash did not work.

In addition, no witness mentioned their presence before the arrival of the emergency services.

Consequently, since there are no facts which establish the presence of David ODEKERKEN, Jacques LANGEVIN, Fabrice CHASSERY, Nikola ARSOV and Laslo VERES at the scene during the period of time preceding the arrival of the police and the emergency services, and a fortiori that of Dr MAILLEZ, one cannot claim that they failed to offer assistance at the scene.

One must wonder then about the credit that can be accorded to the statements by Serge ARNAL concerning the telephone call to the emergency services, in as far as he explained that he had dialled "112" when, on the listings of calls passed on from the mobile telephones, the call that he made at 0.23 had been to "12", the number for telephone information.

(D230 - D6126 - D7218)
During his detention by the crime squad, the investigating officers had ascertained the last 10 numbers dialled in his mobile telephone memory. they found the "112" just before a call to his Chief Editor, Franck KLEIN, this last communication being found, in the same order, on the listing of mobile calls.

Consequently, the inconsistency existing between the reading of his calls in his mobile and that of the general listing cannot constitute an offence. [there being none]

Serge ARNAL, having acted to call the emergency services, cannot be held in custody.

Then with regard to Stéphane DARMON, Christian MARTINEZ, Serge BENAMOU and Romuald RAT, one must note that, if the law requires you to offer to people in danger immediate and personnel assistance, or to call for assistance, that which each of them was able to do, as they all had a mobile telephone, it remains that the offence cannot be said to have occurred in the absence of intent.

This can be deduced from the establishment of the facts, consequently it is not proved that Stéphane DARMON, Serge BENAMOU and Christian MARTINEZ, who were informed by Serge ARNAL that he had made a call to the emergency services, had, by refraining from making a call themselves, the intention of not proffering assistance to the passengers of the vehicle involved in the accident.

Finally, with regard to Romuald RAT, the few seconds that he took to take three photos, before approaching the vehicle involved in the accident, do not appear in themselves likely to represent criminal intent.

On the one hand, he also maintained that he had heard someone shout that the emergency services had been informed, an assertion which is not improbable, given the telephone call by Serge ARNAL. On the other hand, it emerges from the different testimonies and the photos seized that he had stopped taking photos as soon as he had reached the vehicle and was able to ascertain the state of the injured, and did not resume until after the arrival of Dr MAILLEZ.

The conduct which he adopted in this period of time, crouching down in front of the back passenger door, calling another photographer to tell him that the Princess was alive, then arguing with the other photographers, was liable to several interpretations, favourable or not according to whether you considered that, in the panic of the moment, he had tried to intervene, albeit clumsily, or whether he was acting as a professional cynic, calling his colleagues for a "scoop", then pushing them away to organise his own room for manoeuvre.

In these conditions, it does not appear that the constituent elements of the crime of not assisting a person in danger were identified, the charges weighing on the various aspects of the case under examination being insufficient to justify their referral to a tribunal entertaining jurisdiction.

The critical view which could be brought on the manner in which the various people under examination have, during the course of the night in question, exerted their professional activity can only be recorded within the circumstances of the moral appreciation or the code of ethics which govern the profession of journalist or phot-journalist.


Whereas within the terms of the enquiry, there are insufficient charges against the following: ARNAL Serge, ARSOV Nikola, DARMON Stéphane, LANGEVIN Jacques, MARTINEZ Christian, RAT Romuald, VERES Laslo, ODEKERKEN David CHASSERY Fabrice and BENAMOU Serge of having committed the crimes of involuntary manslaughter, involuntary injury, having incurred an ITT of more than 3 months and of failing to assist people in danger, of which they are charged, neither against all other charges of homicide or involuntary injury having incurred an ITT of more than 3 months.

Whereas there are also insufficient charges against any of having committed the crime of endangering the life of another person:

In accordance with articles 175, 176 and 177 of the Code of Penal Procedure;

The examining magistrates find that there is no case to answer in the case of the state versus the above named of the charges of involuntary homicide, involuntary injury incurring an ITT of more than 3 months and of failing to assist a person in danger and against any of the charges of involuntary homicide and injury which have incurred an ITT of more than 3 months and of endangering the life of another person.

Signed at the Public Prosecutor's Office, on . . . . . . . . . .
Head of the Prosecution Dept. at Courts of the First Instance

*Source: Final Report