'Legally mine': Owner of limo in Princess Diana crash DEMANDS French officials give back wreckage worth $11M
NORMANDY, FRANCE: The owner of the limo Princess Diana had died in is reportedly demanding French authorities hand it back to him, saying "it is legally mine." Jean-Francois Musa, the owner of Etoile Limousines, says authorities haven't even told him where the wrecked Mercedes-Benz S280 is being held.
The car has been the focal point of a plethora of conspiracy theories claiming Diana was assassinated after it crashed in Paris’s Pont de l’Alma tunnel on August 31, 1997. Experts reportedly believe the wreckage could be worth more than $11 million.
“I have no idea where the car is. All I know is it is legally mine and obviously I want it back," Musa told The Daily Mirror ahead of the Princess' 25th death anniversary. "It should have been returned by now but that hasn’t proved possible. I always owned it outright. It wasn’t subject to any financing.” The 63-year-old, who spoke from his holiday home in Normandy, said he wants the vehicle put on display in a US museum to honor the late princess. The Royals, however, have always indicated they would prefer it is disposed of discreetly, per the newspaper.
In 2017, the wrecked car was being kept in a shipping container in a police car pound near Creteil on the outskirts of Paris. “It was kept here but it was moved several years ago," a worker at the site told The Mirror. “I don’t know where it is. You will have to ask the Maire de Paris.” However, the Mayor's office also did not reveal the car's whereabouts.
Driver Henri Paul, 41, was blamed for the crash that killed Princess Diana, 36, and boyfriend Dodi Fayed, 42, after an 18-month French judicial probe found that Paul was drunk and on antidepressants, and lost control of the vehicle while speeding.
The findings were corroborated by Operation Paget, the Met inquiry into the incident that ended in 2006. A 2008 inquest in London said Princess Diana and Fayed were the victims of an “unlawful killing” caused by Paul’s “grossly negligent” behavior. This was after Fayed's billionaire father Mohamed Al-Fayed claimed the crash was a plot orchestrated by the MI6 at the behest of the Royal family.
According to the Mirror, Etoile Limousines once had a contract with the Paris Ritz, the hotel owned by Al-Fayed which Princess Diana had left in the car on the night of the crash. “There was no plot,” Musa told the outlet. “This was a routine road accident – the kind all of us dread. It is all very sad.” When asked how he would be spending the 25th anniversary of her death, Musa said, “I’ll be out of Paris, in a different part of France. It’s a sad day.”
Paul's father Jean, who died last year at age 89, was reportedly convinced that someone had tampered with the car driven by his son in a plot to murder Lady Di. A friend of Jean in Lorient, who identified herself as Brittany, told the Mirror, “He knew Henri was a competent driver. He told me, ‘The car was old and dangerous and shouldn’t have been driven.’” There are also claims that crucial parts of the crashed vehicle were destroyed in a mysterious fire that was covered by French officials, the newspaper reported.