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Did Fayed Give Diana A Diamond?

By Charles Trueheart
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, September 5, 1997; Page A29

PARIS, Sept. 4A Paris jeweler refused today to comment on reports first published in the British tabloid newspaper the Sun that he had delivered a $200,000 diamond ring to Dodi Fayed the afternoon before his final dinner with Diana, Princess of Wales, Saturday night.

The possibility that the two had become engaged to marry only a short time before they died would add another cruel twist to their deaths in a Paris highway tunnel about 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

The awesome price of the ring in question would give it the luster of the gem immortalized in the title of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz." Fayed's multimillionaire father, Mohamed Fayed, owns the Ritz Hotel.

Alberto Repossi, whose jewelry shop faces the Ritz Hotel across the Place Vendome, was quoted in the Sun as saying that "Dodi came to me 10 days before this tragic accident and told me that he wanted me to make a ring of the like that had never been seen before. He told me how much he was in love with the princess and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her."

The Sun also said the ring had been found in the wreckage of the Mercedes-Benz in which the couple were mortally injured and, according to the British national news agency Press Association, it was given to Diana's sisters Sunday when they came to Paris to collect her remains.

Today, Repossi Jewelers issued a terse statement that said it had "no comments regarding the news coming from the source of an insurance company that he delivered a diamond ring to Mr. Dodi al Fayed on the 30th of August 1997." An Associated Press dispatch, however, said an unnamed Repossi employee had confirmed the gist of the Sun's report.

Meanwhile, three more photographers who might shed light on the circumstances of the accident were in custody here tonight. The three, who were not identified by name or professional affiliation, turned themselves in to French authorities.

Their testimony, and the film in their cameras, could help answer questions surrounding what happened before and after the crash that killed the princess and Fayed as well as their driver, Henri Paul.

The three photographers can be held for 48 hours before being released, named as subjects of the investigation or charged. They join six photographers and a motorcycle driver who were released by police Tuesday after being named in the investigation for possible involuntary homicide and failing to aid accident victims.

Still another French photographer told a German television network today that he took pictures of the injured Diana as she lay waiting for medical assistance in the Paris tunnel, and then left the scene. "We saw this tragedy with our own eyes," said the photographer, who was not identified and was said to be in hiding from police. "Diana was still moving about. She had her head on her breast. Her arms were still moving. But I believe she was not conscious, like she was in shock. It was simply horrible."

The photographer, echoing other unconfirmed news reports, said that Paul, the driver, had challenged photographers to catch him before he sped away from the Ritz Hotel. He said the car had run a red light moments before the crash. "It was not normal the way he was driving. I never saw anyone take off like that. He drove like a gangster. Unbelievable," the photographer was quoted as saying.

The photographer defended his and a colleague's actions. "Okay, we took a few pictures . . . without thinking. But what should I do? I am not a doctor or a fireman. My job is to take pictures. . . . Then I said stop. My friend and I said stop, and then we drove away."

He also denied responsibility for the accident. "We are not guilty because that is part of the game of life," he asserted.

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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