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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Mark Zaid

Aired September 1, 2003 - 19:51   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Six years after Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris, British officials are mounting an investigation. The British coroner announced it will carry out an inquest almost at the same time a Sunday Express poll found that 27 percent of Britons believe the crash was the result of a plot and 49 percent believe there was a cover-up afterward.
The British royals and government agencies have always vehemently denied any involvement in the crash or any alleged cover-up. Their denials were borne out by the French inquest.

But Dodi al Fayed's father, Mohammed, has been pushing for the British inquest. And his attorney Mark Zaid joins us this evening from Washington.

Good evening. Nice to see you.

MARK ZAID, ATTY. FOR MOHAMMED AL FAYED: Good evening, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: The French investigation blamed the crash on the chauffeur, Henri Paul, saying he was going too fast, that he was under the influence. What makes you think that a British investigation will be any different?

ZAID: Well, there's quite a few pieces of evidence, which actually contradict the French conclusions. One, the speed of the car. The French said it was 120 miles an hour because of the speedometer being fixed at the impact site which is inaccurate. That Henri Paul was drunk. There's actually a great deal of evidence that indicates he was not, both scientific as well as eyewitness testimony, as well as other eyewitnesses who said they saw a motorcycle following the Mercedes and a bright light, which might have caused the Mercedes to crash. And a scientific evidence that there was another vehicle involved in the crash, this white Fiat Uno that the French have never been able to find. Although some evidence indicates that some of the cars, or at least an example of that car may have been found in suspicious circumstances.

O'BRIEN: Your client, Mohammed al Fayed, has made some very bold accusations over the last year. I want to first listen to a clip of something he said on CNN last year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMMED AL FAYED, FATHER OF DODI WHO DIED IN 1997 CRASH: When they saw this happened, the royal family, especially Prince Philip, and they understand that this is going to be a serious relationship, they have murdered them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: He's making a serious accusation, accusing the royal family of murder. He is still standing by those statements?

ZAID: Oh, absolutely. I mean, one has to look at -- there's two questions. One was in fact the princess and Dodi murdered. And then two, of course, who was responsible? And one looks to who had the means, motive and opportunities. And certainly the royal family would be at least on the short suspect list.

There were repeated indications, in fact, the day that Diana died and Dodi died that Prince Philip was quite upset about the relationship of having Diana date a Muslim and potentially a Muslim being the stepfather to the future king of England. So there's at least once you would look at whether or not there was actually a murder committed, then you look at the suspects. Mr. Al Fayed believes that Prince Philip is up there at the top of the list.

O'BRIEN: When will this inquest start and how long is it expected to take?

ZAID: Well, we don't really know. It's taken six years for the British to actually indicate that they'll conduct an inquest. By law they are required to, but they were waiting for the French investigation and other delays. The main question now will be will these be joint inquests, both for Diana and Dodi at the same time. Otherwise you can actually have conflicting evidence presented at both.

But it is the same coroner in Surrey County. So we're fairly optimistic that it'll be one joint inquiry. And I would say certainly within a short period of time, hopefully a few months, as they get their act in order and start to at least frame how in fact they want to conduct their investigation. And we'll provide or at least play as much of a role as they allow us to play.

O'BRIEN: Attorney Mark Zaid joining this evening. Thanks for your time.

ZAID: Sure, thank you.

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