Di inquest thrown into chaos over paparazzi’s refusal to testify

November 14th, 2007 - 8:34 am ICT by admin  
This is the second time in two weeks when the inquest was left disrupted because there was nobody to testify.

France’s letdown to guarantee that its citizens turn up to the inquest, in apparent violation of European Union law and its own domestic legislation, is threatening to explode into an international crisis amid claims of an official conspiracy.

The coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker, has asked Britain’s Justice Secretary Jack Straw to mediate personally with his French counterpart, Rachida Dati.

He wants Straw to convince the French to overturn a decision not to use powers to force French witnesses to testify by video link.

The coroner is expected to brief the jury on developments on Nov 6.

“The coroner will be giving an update but we don’t expect there to be any major developments,” the Daily Express quoted one his officials, as saying.

Then, in place of hearing top barristers question the photographers who pursued Diana and Dodi to the scene of their death in a Paris underpass 10 years ago, the jury will listen to evidence from police officers who questioned witnesses.

Lord Justice Scott Baker has no powers to compel French witnesses to give evidence to a British inquest.

Lawyers for Dodi’s father Mohamed Al Fayed fear the decision will turn the hearings into a “paper inquest,” and are concerned that other key witnesses will use the verdict to decline to give evidence, including French pathologists.

The pathologists are accused of manufacturing, or at least covering up mistakes, over controversial blood tests on the couple’s chauffeur Henri Paul, which showed him to be over the drink-drive limit.

The inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice in London has heard that the higher French authorities have decided not to compel its citizens to give evidence, using a section of the country’s civil code that deals with matters affecting national interest. (ANI)

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