WITNESSES PICK OUT FIAT DRIVER IN DIANA CRASH

By Richard Palmer

A COUPLE who saw a white Fiat car zig-zagging out of the underpass where Diana was killed yesterday identified a Vietnamese man as its probable driver.

Georges and Sabine Dauzonne were giving evidence to the London inquest by video link from Paris.


They independently picked out Le Van Thanh, a former security guard, from a series of photographs and said he “might well have been” the driver.


Le Van Thanh, now a taxi driver, has refused to give evidence to the hearing.


It was the first time Mr and Mrs Dauzonne had been asked to identify the Fiat driver, even though two police inquiries in Britain and France concluded that Diana’s chauffeur-driven Mercedes clipped a white Fiat Uno before it crashed in the Alma tunnel on August 31, 1997.


Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi died when the car driven by Henri Paul crashed into a concrete pillar in the tunnel, believes French photographer James Andanson, allegedly an MI6 agent, was behind the wheel of the mysterious white Fiat Uno.


But the police investigations in Britain and France have failed to find the driver, controversially ruling out Mr Andanson after hearing disputed claims that he was not in Paris at the time.


Le Van Thanh, who was 22 at the time of the tragedy, was interviewed by French police two months after the crash because he owned a white Fiat Uno that matched paintwork found on the Mercedes wreck.


It has been claimed he arrived home in a panic on the night of the crash and had his car re-sprayed red the next day.


But French police decided there was insufficient evidence against him because he claimed he was at work when the crash happened.


Also, his car showed no sign of having lost a rear light which was found in the tunnel after the crash.


Mr and Mrs Dauzonne were separately shown two photos of the Vietnamese.


One showed him sitting in the front of a red Fiat with Max, his pet Rottweiler, in the back, while in the second he was leaning on the bonnet, holding the dog by the lead.


The couple were also shown a black-and-white picture of Mr Andanson with his wife in front of a white Fiat Uno and two photographs of separate groups of paparazzi who were suspects in the case.


Nobody was identified to the couple or the jury, although the photographs have all been circulated widely.


Mrs Dauzonne said afterwards: “Well, it is very difficult but I would say the man in the first two photographs rings clearly a bell.”


Her husband also singled out the first two images, although he appeared less sure.


“I saw someone who looked like the person I saw and I saw a dog behind in the car but it is far away in time,” he told the jury.


Earlier, the couple had described seeing a man emerging in his white Fiat Uno from the tunnel at around the time of the crash, shortly before 12.30am.


They said he had a large dog, perhaps an Alsatian, in the rear of the car and it was wearing a brightly-coloured muzzle or band.


The car, they claimed, zig-zagged across the road and the driver seemed to be preoccupied, looking through his rear view mirror back into the tunnel.


As Mr Dauzonne drove his Rolls-Royce from a slip road on to the riverside expressway just beyond the tunnel they nearly collided twice with the Fiat, the inquest heard, and got a good look at the driver.


“I thought he was drunk,” Mr Dauzonne said.


“My first impression was that it was Saturday night at half-past midnight in Paris, I thought someone drunk was driving that car.


“Then I realised he was doing something with a mirror.”


The hearing continues.