Paris Court Fines Diana Photographers

A Paris appeals court fined three photographers $1.19 each for invasion of privacy for taking pictures of Britain's Princess Diana and boyfriend Dodi Fayed on the night of their fatal 1997 car crash, officials said Wednesday.

The appeals court fined them the symbolic sum in a ruling on Friday, which was not announced until Wednesday.

Jacques Langevin, Christian Martinez and Fabrice Chassery were acquitted of the invasion of privacy charge in 2003 after judges said a crashed vehicle on a public highway is not a private area.

But France's highest court disagreed in a ruling last April and sent the case to the Paris appeals court for review.

The court also ordered them to pay for the publication of announcements of the conviction in three newspapers or magazines.

Fayed's father, Egyptian-born billionaire Mohammed Al Fayed, filed the invasion of privacy complaint. Diana's relatives and the British royal family were not plaintiffs in the case, which focused on three photos of the couple leaving the Ritz Hotel by car and three after the accident on Aug. 31, 1997, in a tunnel alongside the River Seine.

The photographers, whose photos were confiscated and not published, were among the swarm of photographers who pursued the car carrying Diana and Fayed across Paris, and took photos after it slammed into the pillar of the traffic tunnel.

The judges in the appeals court determined that the photographers invaded Fayed's privacy twice: First with photos of the couple as they emerged from the Ritz, and later by photographing him in the crashed car.

Fayed and driver Henri Paul were killed instantly. Diana died later in a hospital. Only the bodyguard survived. A five-year investigation into the crash concluded that Paul had been drinking and was speeding.

In 2002, France's highest court dropped manslaughter charges against nine photographers — including Langevin, Martinez and Chassery.

In a statement, Al Fayed said he believed the decision cast doubt on the validity of the French investigation into the deaths.

"It is deeply disappointing that I am having to fight for so long and on so many fronts in order to get to the truth, but I am encouraged by the fact that each battle I fight takes me a step nearer to the truth," Al Fayed said. "This lovely couple were murdered, with the paparazzi being used as a cover for the murder, and sooner or later I will succeed in exposing the full facts, and the people who committed such a horrendous crime."