Hunt for new clues to Princess Diana’s death

/ Source: The Associated Press

A team of British detectives on Tuesday searched the Paris tunnel where Princess Diana died in a 1997 car crash, hoping the use of the latest high-tech equipment would provide new clues to the accident.

More than a dozen British police officers bearing tripods, special cameras and other equipment moved into the Pont D’Alma tunnel for the late-night probe that included a laser scan of the site.

The tunnel, part of a major artery along the Seine River, was closed to traffic for eight hours beginning at 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Information was being collected for coroner inquests of Diana and her companion Dodi al Fayed, who also was killed in the crash.

Detective David Douglas, chief superintendent at Scotland Yard, said the team hopes to learn exactly what happened “with the best equipment available now.”

Laser beams bounced up and down the pillars of the tunnel. Investigators apparently surveying the area moved around the crash site while others took notes.

The speeding, high-powered car that Diana was riding in crashed into the tunnel’s 13th pillar on Aug. 31, 1997, killing the Princess of Wales, Fayed and the car’s driver, Henri Paul. Diana’s bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, who also was in the car, survived the crash.

The photographs and measurements “will be used to create a 3-D computer model of the scene, using new technology which was not available in 1997,” said a statement from London’s Metropolitan Police. The statement, issued in London, said special laser equipment was being used to scan the area.

“The model ... will enhance understanding of the factors which may have contributed to the collision,” the statement said.

A French court has ruled that the crash was an accident caused by the drunk and speeding driver. However, British royal coroner Michael Burgess opened another investigation to determine whether the deadly crash could have been the result of a plot.

The inquest came after persistent accusations from Dodi’s father, Mohammed al Fayed, that Britain’s Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, masterminded a conspiracy to kill Diana and Dodi because he disapproved of their relationship.

Al Fayed also has claimed the circumstances surrounding the crash were covered up.

London Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens visited Paris last April to retrace Diana’s final moments to determine if she may have been the victim of a criminal conspiracy.