Ritz ig­nored Diana ‘wreck’ warn­ing

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

LON­DON: The Mercedes-Benz in which Princess Diana was driven to her death was a dan­ger­ous “re­built wreck” but con­cerns about its safety were ig­nored, French TV claimed last night.

One warn­ing that the car was not fit to be on the road and “didn’t hold” if driven at more than 60km/h came only two months be­fore the fa­tal high-speed ac­ci­dent in Paris on Au­gust 31, 1997.

The Mercedes-Benz S280 pool car was pro­vided by the Paris Ritz Ho­tel, owned by busi­ness­man Mo­hammed Fayed, whose son was Diana’s lover Dodi Fayed.

The car was owned by Etoile Lim­ou­sines, which sup­plied chauf­feurs and cars to the Ritz.

Pas­cal Rostain, a Paris pho­tog­ra­pher, yes­ter­day told a French ra­dio sta­tion that the “hugely dan­ger­ous” car had been stolen and driven into the ground ear­lier in the year.

“This Ritz car was a wreck. It had crashed be­fore, and been rolled over sev­eral times,” he said.

The car was ready to be bro­ken up, but per­mis­sion was then given to “re­make” it, the pho­tog­ra­pher claimed.

Rostain said one of his friends at the Ritz, iden­ti­fied as a driver called Karim, took the Mercedes for a spin ear­lier in 1997 and warned se­nior staff about it.

Re­fer­ring to Frank Klein, the man­ager of the Ritz at the time, he said: “Two months be­fore the ac­ci­dent, (my friend)… said to Mr Klein… that it was nec­es­sary to get rid of this wagon. At more than 60km/h it didn’t hold.”

Rostain is the co-au­thor of a book called Who Killed Lady Di? and the tragedy was the sub­ject of a doc­u­men­tary broad­cast this week on the French TV chan­nel M6 called Death of Diana: The In­cred­i­ble Rev­e­la­tion.

Mo­hamed Fayed al­ways claimed Diana’s death was the re­sult of a bizarre MI6 plot or­dered by the Royal Fam­ily.

But in 2008, a Bri­tish jury de­liv­ered an in­quest ver­dict of un­law­ful killing caused by Diana’s “grossly neg­li­gent” chauf­feur Henri Paul, who lost con­trol as he raced at up to 190km/h through the Alma Tun­nel while drunk and on anti-de­pres­sants, and try­ing to get away from pur­su­ing pho­tog­ra­phers.

Ad­di­tional fac­tors were Diana not wear­ing a seat belt, and the fact that the Mercedes struck the pil­lar of the Alma Tun­nel rather than col­lid­ing with some­thing else, the in­quest con­cluded.

Or­phe­lie Me­u­nier, the pre­sen­ter of the M6 doc­u­men­tary, said: “We are not of­fer­ing a the­ory, a new hy­poth­e­sis, we are re­ally of­fer­ing ver­i­fied facts – Diana was not safe in this car.”

Among those in­ter­viewed for the pro­gramme were ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive Eric Bous­quet, the orig­i­nal owner of the Mercedes, who con­firmed it had been in­volved in ac­ci­dents and had been stolen.

Me­u­nier said the doc­u­men­tary would help draw a line un­der the con­spir­acy the­o­ries, adding: “It was noth­ing but a car ac­ci­dent.”

The cur­rent owner of the Mercedes is Jean-Fran­cois Musa, 58, the for­mer boss of Etoile Lim­ou­sines.

Musa, who lives in Paris, re­mains locked in a le­gal bat­tle with Scot­land Yard to get the wreck­age of the car back.

It was shipped to Bri­tain for po­lice foren­sics ex­perts to ex­am­ine in the early 2000s, and is be­lieved to be in a com­pound in the UK.

A Scot­land Yard in­ves­ti­ga­tion into con­spir­acy the­o­ries about Diana’s death, led by for­mer Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice com­mis­sioner Lord Stevens, re­ported that ex­perts found no prob­lems with the ve­hi­cle.

His re­port, pub­lished in 2006, con­cluded: “Both the French and Bri­tish ex­am­i­na­tions of the Mercedes have shown that there were no me­chan­i­cal is­sues with the car that could have in any way caused or con­trib­uted to the crash.” – Daily Mail

PIC­TURE: JEROME DE­LAY / AP

DEATH TRAP? Po­lice ser­vices pre­pare to take away the dam­aged car in the Pont d’Alma tun­nel in Paris in which Princess Di and Dodi Fayed were killed on Au­gust 31, 1997.

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