Potential jurors for the London-based inquest into the 1997 deaths of Princess Diana and her companion Dodi Fayed must have one thing in common: very little knowledge of the case.
“You have to put out of your mind anything you have heard, in court,” coroner Scott Baker told those in the jury pool – who had not been warned beforehand about the enormity (or notoriety) of the case they might sit on, the Associated Press reports.
“It will not be easy to do that in this particular case,” said Baker, in reference to the 10 years of intense news coverage, books and TV documentaries that have surrounded Dodi and Diana, “but you will have to.”
Baker acknowledged the hardship of his request, given that the couple’s deaths had “created worldwide interest on an unprecedented scale.”
He also warned those wishing to serve on the jury to avoid doing extracurricular research into the deaths on the Internet, in books or elsewhere.
In a questionnaire provided them, potential jurors were asked, among other things, whether they had any connection to the royal family, Diana’s Spencer family, the Metropolitan Police, intelligence agencies, news services (or even journalists) that had covered Diana, the Fayed family, Dodi’s father’s businesses (including Harrods department store) or the Ritz Hotel in Paris – the couple’s stop before their fatal crash at the Pont d’Alma tunnel.
Court officials say that from 200 candidates, 11 jury members will be selected. The inquest is set to begin Oct. 2 and is expected to last six months.
For those who have been living under a rock for the past decade, police inquiries in France and Britain concluded that the crash was an accident and that driver Henri Paul was intoxicated.
Fayed’s father, Mohamed al Fayed, however, has long insisted that his son and the princess were the victims of a plot masterminded by Prince Philip and the British security services. Al Fayed’s legal representatives will participate in the inquest.
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