Judge sends jury out at Diana inquest

Wed Apr 2, 2008 10:22am EDT
 
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By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - The jury at an inquest into Princess Diana's death began deliberating their verdict on Wednesday after spending almost six months listening to more than 250 witnesses.

"There is no pressure of time. Take as long as is necessary," Lord Justice Scott Baker, the presiding judge, said. He is seeking a unanimous verdict.

Diana and her lover Dodi al-Fayed died in August 1997 when their Mercedes limousine crashed in a Paris road tunnel whilst being pursued by paparazzi.

Scott Baker told the six men and five women of the jury at London's High Court they could reach one of five possible verdicts at the end of a case that has sparked worldwide media interest.

They could decide her death was accidental or opt for unlawful killing through gross negligence either by her chauffeur Henri Paul, by "following vehicles," or by both.

The fifth option, which could give renewed life to the conspiracy theories that have surrounded Diana's death for the past decade, is an open verdict if the 11-member jury find there is insufficient evidence to support any substantive verdict.

The inquest, estimated to have cost up to $20 million, stretched around the globe with witnesses heard by videolink from France, the United States, Nigeria, Kenya and Australia.

Few details of Diana's private life were spared as friends, family, faith healers, spies, bodyguards, police chiefs and butlers were called to give their opinion.   Continued...

 
<p>Diana, Princess of Wales, looks over her shoulder and smiles during banquet for Japanese Emperor Akihito in Tokyo November 12, 1990. REUTERS/Kimimasa Mayama</p>