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Princess Diana's Death Ruled Manslaughter After Inquest

Princess_diana_funereal It's been all inquest, all the time, around these parts.

The jury in the inquest into the 1997 deaths of Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed found yesterday that their deaths were akin to manslaughter.  They deliberated for 23 hours and this was the most serious ruling available to them.  They ruled the couple's deaths was caused by the "unlawful, negligent driving of the Mercedes and the following vehicles."  The inquest began in October, lasted more than six months, and 240 witnesses were called.

The jury said the couple's driver, Henri Paul, who also died in the crash, "caused or contributed to" the accident by the manner in which he was driving and the fact that his blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit.  They also blamed the fact that neither were wearing seat belts (seat belts people, seat belts!).

Mohamed Al Fayed, Dodi's father and owner of the famed London Department store Harod's, said he was "disappointed" with the outcome. He has long promoted the theory that the couple were murdered by the secret service at the request of the royal family.  "The verdicts have come as a blow to many millions of people around the world," said a statement read by his spokeswoman Katharine Witty. Adding that the inquest had proven that the couple were in a "serious relationship, his statement went on to say, "They were taken away in the prime of their life when they were at their happiest. I will always mourn their loss to me and the world."

The coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker, had instructed the jury that there was no evidence to support claims by Mohamed Al Fayed that the couple were victims of a murder plot directed by Prince Philip and carried out by British secret agents. The jury was not at liberty to disagree.

The entire investigation took three-and-a-half years, and cost an estimated $16 million, according to Scotland Yard's deputy commissioner Paul Stephenson. He and former commissioner Lord Stevens also said the jury verdict vindicated their findings that there was no conspiracy.

New criminal charges were unlikely because the accident happened in France outside the British authorities' jurisdiction, a court spokesman said.

Prince William and Prince Harry issued this statement:

"We should like to thank the members of the Jury at the Inquests into the deaths of our mother and Dodi Al Fayed for the thorough way in which they have considered the evidence," their statement reads. "We agree with their verdicts, and are both hugely grateful to each and every one of them for the forbearance they have shown in accepting such significant disruption to their lives over the past six months.

"Both of us are much indebted to the Coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker, for his unfailing courtesy, and for all the consideration shown by him and his staff not only to us but to all those involved in this hearing. We are particularly grateful to Trevor Rees, and to others who came forward to give evidence – in many cases reawakening their painful and personal memories."  "Finally," the princes concluded, "the two of us would like to express our most profound gratitude to all those who fought so desperately to save our mother's life on that tragic night."

Agree?  Disagree?  Conspiracy theories?  Was this worth $16 million?  Discuss.

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