‘Blocking vehicle’ tried to slow down Di’s Mercedes: Witness

November 14th, 2007 - 2:49 am ICT by admin  
Oliver Partouche, a chauffeur who was standing on the roadside waiting for a client near the Pont de l’Alma underpass in Paris, told the inquest that a dark car, which he described as a Ford Mondeo-style mid-size saloon, appeared to form a “compact group” with several motorcyclists following the Mercedes, moments before it crashed in the.

Speaking to French police two hours after the crash, he estimated the Mercedes was travelling at 150km/h (93mph).

“In front of the Mercedes was a car, of which I could not tell you the make.t was dark in colour and clearly this car was trying to make the Mercedes slow down,” the Scotsman quoted Partouche, as saying in the statement.

“The Mercedes was black. I think it was an S Class 500. The object of the manoeuvre was to make it possible for the paparazzi to take photographs,” he added.

In the same statement he referred to the dark car as “the blocking vehicle” and said the Mercedes had pulled out past it.

Partouche added in a later statement made to a French examining magistrate: “The vehicle in front of the Mercedes did not perform any dangerous manoeuvres on the road to prevent it (the Mercedes) getting past.”

Giving evidence by videolink from Paris to the inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Partouche said he now thought the Mercedes had been travelling slower than his first estimate but still “very very fast”.

Following it were “a number of motorcycles,” he said.

“I was just of the impression of a kind of a group, with in the front of the group the car and the motorcycles just behind at the same speed,” he added.

Other witnesses also told the inquest they recalled seeing a dark car in front of the princess’s Mercedes inside the tunnel.

Gaelle Lhostis, a Frenchwoman travelling through the underpass at the time of the crash, said the vehicle was “hindering” the Mercedes by travelling “rather slowly” ahead of it in the fast lane.

Another witness, Gaelle Lhostis, also speaking from Paris told the court she was asleep in the passenger seat of her fiance’s car when she was woken up after he had braked suddenly.

She said she had seen a dark-coloured vehicle, possibly like a Renault Clio, that was driving “rather slowly”.

In a statement to police hours after the crash, she said: “I saw a vehicle of a dark colour, a Clio or a Super 5-type, driving rather slowly. It was hindering a Mercedes that was following it at a high speed.”

Diana and her lover, Dodi Fayed, were killed, along with the Mercedes driver, Henri Paul, in the Paris crash on 31 August, 1997. (ANI)

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