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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 October 2007, 06:21 GMT 07:21 UK
Rings and 'hitmen' occupy Diana jury
By Peter Hunt
Royal correspondent, BBC News

Dodi Fayed in the Repossi jewellers in Paris
The jury has seen footage of Dodi Al Fayed visiting a Paris jeweller

It has been a week of striking images and phrases at the inquest into the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed.

When the video link on the west coast of America was playing up, the eyewitness there - who had been in Paris on business at the time of 1997 car crash that killed the couple - commented that he was having a "difficult communication capability".

Across the channel, a French witness spoke rather beautifully of his "foggy memory" - it's a struggle several people have had as they try to recall specific details of an event 10 years ago.

Francois Levistre would probably argue the passage of time has not had such an impact on him.

His testimony is a crucial part of the allegation that the British establishment conspired to murder the princess and Mr Al Fayed.

Mr Levistre said he was driving in front of the Mercedes in the Alma tunnel when he saw, in his mirror, the car being overtaken by a motorbike.

'Everything was over'

He told the jury he saw a bright flash which was directed at the Mercedes just moments before it hit the thirteenth pillar.

Then, he said, a passenger on the motorbike, dressed in black, walked over to the crashed car; looked at the driver and made a sign with his hands which Mr Levistre interpreted as meaning "everything was over".

The latest images [the jury] watched go to the heart of Mohammed Al Fayed's claim that Diana and Dodi were about to get married
Peter Hunt

The motorbike sped off but the eyewitness stayed where he was because he feared they were hitmen.

This dramatic evidence was tested during several hours of cross-examination.

Mr Levistre has given a number of different accounts of what happened that night and rather than going straight to the police he had contacted a British newspaper and the Paris Ritz.

He was reminded of his past, something Mr Levistre said you keep "all life long in France".

He has been in prison - on one occasion for possessing an illegal weapon.

The focus on his private life was, said Mr Levistre, "a big slap in the face".

One headline the next day declared "Diana Sensation" - "I saw hitmen cause crash".

The 11 members of the jury will not have read it if they are following the coroner's instruction to avoid media coverage.

Their task with Mr Levistre, as with all the witnesses, will be to assess his credibility and his evidence.

The six women and five men are getting rather used to viewing CCTV footage.

Princess Diana
A friend of Diana's told the jury the princess did not want to get married

It is now unremarkable to them that movements inside and outside the Ritz Hotel that August were being tracked so assiduously.

The latest images they watched go to the heart of Mohammed Al Fayed's claim that Princess Diana and his son were about to get married.

'Tell me yes'

The Harrods owner maintains the couple had selected an engagement ring in Monte Carlo, which his son later collected in Paris, and they had intended to make an announcement the day after they died.

The court was shown footage of Dodi Al Fayed visiting a jeweller, across the square from the Ritz, and saw a receipt which referred to an engagement ring.

A Dis Moi Oui - meaning Tell Me Yes - ring was found in his apartment after the crash.

The challenge for the jury - one of countless they will encounter in the coming months - will be to decide whether this was an engagement ring chosen by the couple or whether it was chosen by Mr Al Fayed alone.

The court has already heard the view of one of Diana's friends.

She said the princess had told her: "I need marriage like a rash on the face."



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