Diana Case: Playing the Blame Game

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PARIS: The blame game has begun. At stake are big-money lawsuits, possible prison terms, and the unenviable role of scapegoat for the wrath of a global media audience intent on identifying, castigating and punishing the villains responsible for the death of its princess.

An attorney for the Al Fayed family owners of the Ritz hotel that employed the allegedly drunken, speeding limo driver Henri Paul is threatening to sue photographers for damages. The lawyer, Bernard Dartevelle, launched the latest volley in his media offensive by stressing that a witness reported seeing a motorcycle zigzagging in front of the Mercedes in an apparent bid to try to slow it down, just before the crash. One of the attorneys representing paparazzi under investigation for manslaughter counters that the photographers are being targeted as "sacrificial lambs" in a prime-time case of "showbiz justice" aimed at pleasing the French Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, one of Henri Paul's colleagues at the Ritz speaking on French radio with his voice disguised claimed that the driver lacked a limo license required in France to chauffeur passengers. The Al Fayeds quickly denied that accusation.

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