Al Fayed Hurls Insults
At Diana's Mother
(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 the crash.
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@

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