- (Recasts with fresh al Fayed quotes,
questioning ends) By Irwin Arieff PARIS (Reuters) - Mohamed al Fayed, the
father of Dodi who died with Princess Diana in a Paris car crash, launched
a bitter attack on Diana's mother Frances Shand Kydd on Friday, calling
her an English snob and a bad parent. ``She's not a good mother,'' the
wealthy Egyptian businessman told reporters as he left an all-day questioning
session conducted by the French judge investigating the Aug. 31 accident.
``She can go to hell,'' he shouted, adding that Shand Kydd had deserted
Diana when she was just six. ``She didn't give a damn about her.'' Al Fayed,
who owns Harrods department store in London and the Ritz Hotel in Paris
but has been denied British citizenship, unleashed his verbal assault when
asked if he had spoke to her during the day's questioning. ``People like
that are on another planet,'' he said, blaming her ``English snobbishness.''
``These are different people. They can't talk to ordinary people like me,''
he said. ``She knows our interests are the same... She lost her daughter
and I lost my son.'' Al Fayed has said he believes Diana and Dodi were
victims of a plot, perhaps involving the royal family, that was intended
to end their romance. But he declined to repeat that allegation on Friday,
saying such conclusions were up to the judge. Investigating magistrate
Herve Stephan had summoned the witnesses and other interested parties to
the Paris law courts in a final attempt to iron out conflicts in the various
accounts of the accident.
- The goal of the session, which ended
after more than six hours of questioning, was to encourage witnesses with
different accounts of the crash to confront one another and defend their
point of view.
- Lawyers and witnesses attending the session
said little progress had been made in eliminating uncertainties. Two witnesses,
who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the session had been marked by
sharp divisions between the testimony of the photographers who had been
pursuing Diana's limousine at the time of the crash and other witnesses.
``Everything is taking place in a super-cool atmosphere, and the process
is going forward. But there has been no progress in determining 'the truth',''
one witness told Reuters. ``I think the day was useful in that it helped
resole secondary questions, but everything still remains open,'' al Fayed's
lawyer Georges Kiejman told reporters.
- Al Fayed said he thought additional questioning
would be needed to further refine the evidence. But the judge did not tell
participants what his next move would be in the probe, which sources say
may require another six months to a year to run its course. Al Fayed also
had strong words for the photographers who had snapped pictures of Dodi
and Diana at the accident site. ``I would hang them if I weren't in the
courtroom,'' he said of the photographers, whose pictures of the crash
scene have been entered as evidence in the criminal investigation into
- British television this week broadcast
a widely condemned documentary on the princess's death, alleging that Diana
and Dodi's driver Henri Paul, who also died in the accident, had been in
regular contact with the French and other secret services. CBS Television
News said in a statement issued on Friday that the barman at the Ritz,
where Diana and Dodi has their last dinner, had told investigators that
Paul, a Ritz employee, was staggering as he left the hotel to take the
couple on their last drive.
- ``I saw Henri Paul was showing signs
of drunkenness. His eyes were shiny. When Mr Paul left the bar, he bumped
into the first barman and then staggered toward the exit,'' barman Alain
Willaumez told the U.S. television network. Asked about the interview,
Al Fayed's spokesman Laurie Mayer told Reuters no one had witnessed Paul
during the two hours before the drive. ``Nobody knew where he was,'' Mayer
said. French investigators say they have found no evidence whatsoever of
any plot. After nine months of investigation, French officials say they
still believe that excessive speed and alcohol were to blame. They cite
evidence that chauffeur Paul was driving at high speed with a criminal
level of alcohol in his blood. ^REUTERS@