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BOJ acting chief approved as head

TOKYO, Japan (AP) — Japan’s lower house of parliament and the opposition-controlled upper house of Parliament endorsed the Bank of Japan’s acting chief as its governor Wednesday, ending a power vacuum at the central bank’s helm by approving the government’s third candidate for the job.

A stalemate over who should head the Bank of Japan had festered for weeks as the opposition turned the decision into a political issue. The five-year term of former Bank of Japan chief Toshihiko Fukui expired March 19.

The opposition, led by the Democrats, said former bureaucrats at the powerful Finance Minister ministry were too politically connected and could endanger the independence of the central bank of the world’s second largest economy. They voted down two previous candidates for the top job for that reason.

In the latest balloting, shown live on the Internet, the upper house approved Masaaki Shirakawa, now interim governor of the Bank of Japan, to permanently take that seat 231-7. But it voted down the nomination of Hiroshi Watanabe 121-115 as one of two deputy governors.

The nomination for the posts need approval from both houses of parliament, and votes on both were set there for later in the day, although Watanabe already is out of the running because of his rejection in the upper house.

The ruling coalition controls the lower house,and so Shirakawa, nominated by the prime minister, will have no problems clearing that house.
BOJ acting chief approved as head – found here.

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April 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BOJ acting chief approved as head

TOKYO, Japan (AP) — Japan’s lower house of parliament and the opposition-controlled upper house of Parliament endorsed the Bank of Japan’s acting chief as its governor Wednesday, ending a power vacuum at the central bank’s helm by approving the government’s third candidate for the job.

A stalemate over who should head the Bank of Japan had festered for weeks as the opposition turned the decision into a political issue. The five-year term of former Bank of Japan chief Toshihiko Fukui expired March 19.

The opposition, led by the Democrats, said former bureaucrats at the powerful Finance Minister ministry were too politically connected and could endanger the independence of the central bank of the world’s second largest economy. They voted down two previous candidates for the top job for that reason.

In the latest balloting, shown live on the Internet, the upper house approved Masaaki Shirakawa, now interim governor of the Bank of Japan, to permanently take that seat 231-7. But it voted down the nomination of Hiroshi Watanabe 121-115 as one of two deputy governors.

The nomination for the posts need approval from both houses of parliament, and votes on both were set there for later in the day, although Watanabe already is out of the running because of his rejection in the upper house.

The ruling coalition controls the lower house,and so Shirakawa, nominated by the prime minister, will have no problems clearing that house.
BOJ acting chief approved as head – found here.

April 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Navy SEAL paid ultimate price to save buddies

WASHINGTON (CNN) — When a grenade bounced off his chest and fell to the floor near his fellow troops, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor acted out of instinct.

His actions didn’t stem from a lack of training. His instant reaction was to protect his comrades.

The Navy says he committed a selfless act — jumping on the grenade and taking the full force of the blast.

President Bush presented Monsoor’s parents with a posthumous Medal of Honor for their son at an emotional White House ceremony on Tuesday. Watch Monsoor’s sister share her memories

Monsoor was one of the U.S. military’s most highly trained combatants, a Navy SEAL. He’s the first SEAL to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq.

On September 29, 2006, Monsoor was part of a major clearing and isolating operation to root out enemy fighters holding parts of Ramadi, the Sunni insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad.

Monsoor was in a sniper position on a rooftop along with two other SEALs when a grenade flew into his location from out of nowhere. It bounced off his chest and landed in an area where it likely would have killed or seriously wounded all three of them.

Monsoor was in a position to escape before the explosion but instead leapt on the grenade.

He recognized immediately the threat, yelled ‘grenade’ and due to the fact that two other SEAL snipers, our brothers, could not possibly escape the blast, he chose to smother it with his body, absorbed the impact and lost his life in the process, said Lt. Cmdr. Seth Stone, Mansoor’s platoon commander.

The blast did not kill him right away — he hung on for 30 minutes. His two comrades also were wounded but survived the shrapnel that ripped through their bodies.

Stone said: He essentially saved the Navy SEALS on the rooftop and three Iraqi soldiers who were there.

Until this month, when the White House announced Monsoor would receive the Medal of Honor posthumously, few people knew of his story.

Born in 1981 in Long Beach, California, Monsoor excelled as a high school athlete. He joined the Navy before the September 11, 2001, attacks.

In 2004, Monsoor graduated from the basic SEAL training course as one of the top members of his class. By March 2005, he had completed his training and was assigned to SEAL Team 3, Delta Platoon.

In April 2006, that unit deployed to Iraq’s troubled and violent western provincial capital of Ramadi. Monsoor would not return home alive.

His five-month stay in Ramadi was marked by constant attacks. As a heavy machine gunner, Monsoor had to stay behind the point man on foot patrols and protect the unit from attacks.

Delta Platoon was involved in attacks on 75 percent of its missions in a highly contested part of Ramadi called the Ma’laab district, according to the Navy.

On a patrol less than a month after arriving in Iraq, Monsoor showed some of his selfless instinct when gunfire hit a fellow SEAL in the leg.

Monsoor ran out into the street with another SEAL, shot cover fire and dragged his comrade to safety while enemy bullets kicked up the concrete at their feet, according to Navy documents.

He received the Silver Star, the third highest award for valor in combat.

His unit continued to endure the constant barrage of attacks and some 35 firefights with insurgent forces over the scorching Iraqi summer.

Monsoor also was saddled with carrying heavy radio equipment on his back as the SEAL communicator who called in tank and other support during firefights.

He received the Bronze Star for his work as an adviser for Iraqi troops.

His leadership, guidance and decisive actions during 11 different combat operations saved the lives of his teammates, other [U.S.-led] coalition forces and Iraqi army soldiers, according to Navy documents.

But it was his instinct on his last operation on that Ramadi roof that solidified Monsoor’s standing as a hero.
Navy SEAL paid ultimate price to save buddies – found here.

April 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shiite cleric threatens to end militia’s cease-fire, cancels protest

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called off a mass demonstration for Wednesday in Baghdad and threatened to formally end the seven-month cease-fire of his Mehdi Army militia.

Fighting in al-Sadr’s Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City stretched into its third consecutive day Tuesday. At least 36 people have been killed and 139 wounded, an Interior Ministry official said.

Eight of the 11 U.S. troops killed in Iraq on Sunday and Monday died in fighting in Baghdad.

Four U.S. soldiers were killed Monday in the capital, the U.S. military said.

One soldier was killed by a roadside bomb, two by a rocket-propelled grenade and one by small-arms fire after a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle during a patrol in eastern Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

The deaths bring the U.S. death toll in the Iraq war to 4,024, including eight civilian Defense Department contractors.

Fighting in eastern Baghdad between U.S. troops and Shiite militiamen — particularly those from al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army — has intensified in recent days. Watch how a Mehdi stronghold turned out to be peaceful

Militants have been firing rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars at patrols in Sadr City and other neighborhoods and into the bastion of U.S. power in Iraq known as the Green Zone, the U.S. military said.

Also, the government is continuing its offensive against what it calls criminal elements in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, a stronghold of the Mehdi Army.

The Iraqi government should know that the Mehdi Army will be hand in hand with the Iraqi people to provide them with all security, stability, independence, liberation, unity … that they need, al-Sadr said on his Web site. And if interest requires ending the freeze to implement our goals, beliefs, religion, principles and nationalism, we will do that later.

Al-Sadr last week urged a million people to take to the streets of the capital on Wednesday, the fifth anniversary of the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, to protest the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Saleh al-Ageili, a spokesman for al-Sadr’s parliamentary bloc, said Tuesday that protesters heading to Baghdad from Najaf were being prevented by security forces from taking part in al-Sadr’s demonstration.

He said the government was restricting the protest to Sadr City, even though the demonstration was planned for a wider area in the capital.

Al-Ageili said 200 cars carrying protesters from Najaf to Baghdad were stuck in Hilla, in Babil province. A source from Hilla police said they had received orders from Baghdad to block males between the ages of 12 and 35 from proceeding to Baghdad from Monday at 6 p.m. until Thursday at 6 a.m.

That was before al-Sadr called off the demonstration.

I call on the beloved Iraqi people who wish to demonstrate against the occupation to postpone this because I am worried about them and want to preserve their blood, al-Sadr said on his Web site.

Al-Sadr said the Iraqi government’s security presence shows that it is under American pressure.

Government forces dominated by a rival Shiite movement, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, planned to begin house-to-house weapons confiscations in Basra and in Baghdad neighborhoods.

The Sadrist movement used to be part of the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance coalition, which includes Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Dawa party and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. It helped put al-Maliki in power.

But the group bolted from the coalition last year, and six Sadrists left their Cabinet posts because al-Maliki wouldn’t set a timeline for U.S. troop withdrawal. The Sadrists are active in parliament, where they have 30 seats.

In his Web site message, al-Sadr urged the Iraqi government to take several steps, including setting a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

Work to protect the Iraqi people and stop wasting their blood and dignity and to protect them from the despised sectarianism and political parties’ influence that have become rampant within its ranks, he said.

He urged the government to protect the Iraqi people from the car bombs and American militias that are disguised in the cover of ‘companies,’ an apparent reference to private security contractors such as Blackwater.

Al-Maliki continued his hard line on the Sadrists on Sunday, when he laid down an ultimatum for al-Sadr to disband his Mehdi Army or see his supporters barred from public office.

The Sadrists say any effort to bar them from political participation would be unconstitutional — and that any decision to disband the Mehdi Army is not the government’s to make.

Al-Sadr spokesman Salah al-Obeidi said al-Sadr has consulted with Iraq’s Shiite clerical leadership and they refused that. He did not provide details of the talks.
Shiite cleric threatens to end militia’s cease-fire, cancels protest – found here.

April 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Polar bear cub makes public debut

LONDON, England (CNN) — A fluffy white polar bear cub that has captured German hearts is making her first public appearance Tuesday at the Nuremberg City Zoo.

Flocke (FLOCK-uh), whose name means snowflake in German, was born at the zoo in December. She gained international attention in January after zookeepers said they had taken Flocke away from her mother because of concerns she would eat her.

The zoo’s other female polar bear had recently eaten her two offspring, and the zoo was concerned that Flocke’s mother would do the same.

Zookeepers bottle-fed Flocke and kept her warm with blankets and heatlamps.

Sweet pictures of the young bear being cuddled by her keepers or sleeping with her tongue sticking out boosted Flocke’s popularity, and she quickly eclipsed Knut (knoot), the polar bear at the Berlin Zoo.

Knut was a sensation when he was born in December 2006, but at 16 months old he’s no longer considered as cute as his Nuremberg counterpart.

Flocke has grown into a bouncy young cub who is learning how to use her large paws. The zoo’s latest pictures of Flocke, from early last week, show her frolicking in her enclosure and paddling in a pool of shallow water.

The first chance to see Flocke up close is Tuesday, when the zoo is holding a media event with about 50 members of the public. Starting Wednesday, people visiting the zoo will be able to see Flocke in her enclosure from 9-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. daily — if Flocke plays along and decides to step outside, the zoo said. E-mail to a friend

Polar bear cub makes public debut – found here.

April 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

IMF may sell 400 tons of gold

WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Monetary Fund’s executive board has approved a broad financial overhaul plan that could lead to the eventual sale of a little over 400 tons of its substantial gold supplies.

The sale cannot occur without congressional approval as well as legislative action in many of the 184 other nations that are members of the Washington-based lending institution.

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn welcomed the board’s decision Monday to propose a new framework for the fund, designed to close a projected $400 million budget deficit over the next few years.

It is a landmark agreement that will put the institution on a solid financial footing and modernize the IMF’s structure and operations, he said in a statement.

The budget proposal includes sharp spending cuts of $100 million over the next three years that will include up to 100 staff dismissals.

We have made difficult but necessary choices to close the projected income shortfall and put the fund’s finances on a sustainable basis, but in the end it will make the fund more focused, efficient and cost-effective in serving our members, said Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister.

The IMF said the board agreed to revamp the fund’s income model from one that primarily relies on lending to one that generates money from various sources.

During the 1990s, the IMF lent billions to countries in Asia and Latin America that were facing financial crises and financed its operations on interest from those loans. In recent years, IMF lending has dried up as many of those countries have built up reserves to prevent them from having to borrow again from the IMF, which often puts severe restrictions and conditions on its loans. The declining interest payments led to the IMF’s budget gap.

Actual sale of the gold cannot start immediately because the U.S. member on the IMF board cannot vote for it until Congress approves. Congress has made approval conditional on a broad range of operational changes that Strauss-Khan has pledged to carry out to preserve the relevancy of the 64-year-old organization, whose mission is to promote global financial stability.

Under the plan, the IMF would sell the 403 tons, or nearly 13 million ounces, of gold for about $11 billion over several years. The IMF would keep $4.4 billion on its books, and the remaining $6.6 billion would go into an investment account.

The IMF, which has sold gold before, said it would coordinate the sales with central banks in an effort to prevent market disruptions.

Gold sales would be conducted in a transparent manner with strong safeguards to ensure that they do not add to official sales and avoid any risk of market disruption, the IMF said in a statement.

The Bush administration said in February it could support selling a limited amount of IMF gold as away to ensure the agency’s long-term financial stability, but Treasury officials realized this would be a hard sell. In 1999 Congress rejected a previous proposal to sell IMF gold, and the current majority leader of the Senate, Democrat Harry Reid, comes from the gold-mining state of Nevada.

Strauss-Khan, who took over last November as head of the IMF, said the financial overhaul was another major step in the organization’s reform process. It followed a decision last month to slightly increase the voting power of rapidly developing countries such as China, India and Brazil, who are playing a growing role in the world economy. Since its founding, the United States and European nations have dominated IMF decision-making.

Besides using the gold sales to produce an income stream, the fund’s narrow investment authority will be broadened. E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

IMF may sell 400 tons of gold – found here.

April 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

IMF may sell 400 tons of gold

WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Monetary Fund’s executive board has approved a broad financial overhaul plan that could lead to the eventual sale of a little over 400 tons of its substantial gold supplies.

The sale cannot occur without congressional approval as well as legislative action in many of the 184 other nations that are members of the Washington-based lending institution.

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn welcomed the board’s decision Monday to propose a new framework for the fund, designed to close a projected $400 million budget deficit over the next few years.

It is a landmark agreement that will put the institution on a solid financial footing and modernize the IMF’s structure and operations, he said in a statement.

The budget proposal includes sharp spending cuts of $100 million over the next three years that will include up to 100 staff dismissals.

We have made difficult but necessary choices to close the projected income shortfall and put the fund’s finances on a sustainable basis, but in the end it will make the fund more focused, efficient and cost-effective in serving our members, said Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister.

The IMF said the board agreed to revamp the fund’s income model from one that primarily relies on lending to one that generates money from various sources.

During the 1990s, the IMF lent billions to countries in Asia and Latin America that were facing financial crises and financed its operations on interest from those loans. In recent years, IMF lending has dried up as many of those countries have built up reserves to prevent them from having to borrow again from the IMF, which often puts severe restrictions and conditions on its loans. The declining interest payments led to the IMF’s budget gap.

Actual sale of the gold cannot start immediately because the U.S. member on the IMF board cannot vote for it until Congress approves. Congress has made approval conditional on a broad range of operational changes that Strauss-Khan has pledged to carry out to preserve the relevancy of the 64-year-old organization, whose mission is to promote global financial stability.

Under the plan, the IMF would sell the 403 tons, or nearly 13 million ounces, of gold for about $11 billion over several years. The IMF would keep $4.4 billion on its books, and the remaining $6.6 billion would go into an investment account.

The IMF, which has sold gold before, said it would coordinate the sales with central banks in an effort to prevent market disruptions.

Gold sales would be conducted in a transparent manner with strong safeguards to ensure that they do not add to official sales and avoid any risk of market disruption, the IMF said in a statement.

The Bush administration said in February it could support selling a limited amount of IMF gold as away to ensure the agency’s long-term financial stability, but Treasury officials realized this would be a hard sell. In 1999 Congress rejected a previous proposal to sell IMF gold, and the current majority leader of the Senate, Democrat Harry Reid, comes from the gold-mining state of Nevada.

Strauss-Khan, who took over last November as head of the IMF, said the financial overhaul was another major step in the organization’s reform process. It followed a decision last month to slightly increase the voting power of rapidly developing countries such as China, India and Brazil, who are playing a growing role in the world economy. Since its founding, the United States and European nations have dominated IMF decision-making.

Besides using the gold sales to produce an income stream, the fund’s narrow investment authority will be broadened. E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

IMF may sell 400 tons of gold – found here.

April 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

IMF may sell 400 tons of gold

WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Monetary Fund’s executive board has approved a broad financial overhaul plan that could lead to the eventual sale of a little over 400 tons of its substantial gold supplies.

The sale cannot occur without congressional approval as well as legislative action in many of the 184 other nations that are members of the Washington-based lending institution.

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn welcomed the board’s decision Monday to propose a new framework for the fund, designed to close a projected $400 million budget deficit over the next few years.

It is a landmark agreement that will put the institution on a solid financial footing and modernize the IMF’s structure and operations, he said in a statement.

The budget proposal includes sharp spending cuts of $100 million over the next three years that will include up to 100 staff dismissals.

We have made difficult but necessary choices to close the projected income shortfall and put the fund’s finances on a sustainable basis, but in the end it will make the fund more focused, efficient and cost-effective in serving our members, said Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister.

The IMF said the board agreed to revamp the fund’s income model from one that primarily relies on lending to one that generates money from various sources.

During the 1990s, the IMF lent billions to countries in Asia and Latin America that were facing financial crises and financed its operations on interest from those loans. In recent years, IMF lending has dried up as many of those countries have built up reserves to prevent them from having to borrow again from the IMF, which often puts severe restrictions and conditions on its loans. The declining interest payments led to the IMF’s budget gap.

Actual sale of the gold cannot start immediately because the U.S. member on the IMF board cannot vote for it until Congress approves. Congress has made approval conditional on a broad range of operational changes that Strauss-Khan has pledged to carry out to preserve the relevancy of the 64-year-old organization, whose mission is to promote global financial stability.

Under the plan, the IMF would sell the 403 tons, or nearly 13 million ounces, of gold for about $11 billion over several years. The IMF would keep $4.4 billion on its books, and the remaining $6.6 billion would go into an investment account.

The IMF, which has sold gold before, said it would coordinate the sales with central banks in an effort to prevent market disruptions.

Gold sales would be conducted in a transparent manner with strong safeguards to ensure that they do not add to official sales and avoid any risk of market disruption, the IMF said in a statement.

The Bush administration said in February it could support selling a limited amount of IMF gold as away to ensure the agency’s long-term financial stability, but Treasury officials realized this would be a hard sell. In 1999 Congress rejected a previous proposal to sell IMF gold, and the current majority leader of the Senate, Democrat Harry Reid, comes from the gold-mining state of Nevada.

Strauss-Khan, who took over last November as head of the IMF, said the financial overhaul was another major step in the organization’s reform process. It followed a decision last month to slightly increase the voting power of rapidly developing countries such as China, India and Brazil, who are playing a growing role in the world economy. Since its founding, the United States and European nations have dominated IMF decision-making.

Besides using the gold sales to produce an income stream, the fund’s narrow investment authority will be broadened. E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

IMF may sell 400 tons of gold – found here.

April 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

IMF may sell 400 tons of gold

WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Monetary Fund’s executive board has approved a broad financial overhaul plan that could lead to the eventual sale of a little over 400 tons of its substantial gold supplies.

The sale cannot occur without congressional approval as well as legislative action in many of the 184 other nations that are members of the Washington-based lending institution.

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn welcomed the board’s decision Monday to propose a new framework for the fund, designed to close a projected $400 million budget deficit over the next few years.

It is a landmark agreement that will put the institution on a solid financial footing and modernize the IMF’s structure and operations, he said in a statement.

The budget proposal includes sharp spending cuts of $100 million over the next three years that will include up to 100 staff dismissals.

We have made difficult but necessary choices to close the projected income shortfall and put the fund’s finances on a sustainable basis, but in the end it will make the fund more focused, efficient and cost-effective in serving our members, said Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister.

The IMF said the board agreed to revamp the fund’s income model from one that primarily relies on lending to one that generates money from various sources.

During the 1990s, the IMF lent billions to countries in Asia and Latin America that were facing financial crises and financed its operations on interest from those loans. In recent years, IMF lending has dried up as many of those countries have built up reserves to prevent them from having to borrow again from the IMF, which often puts severe restrictions and conditions on its loans. The declining interest payments led to the IMF’s budget gap.

Actual sale of the gold cannot start immediately because the U.S. member on the IMF board cannot vote for it until Congress approves. Congress has made approval conditional on a broad range of operational changes that Strauss-Khan has pledged to carry out to preserve the relevancy of the 64-year-old organization, whose mission is to promote global financial stability.

Under the plan, the IMF would sell the 403 tons, or nearly 13 million ounces, of gold for about $11 billion over several years. The IMF would keep $4.4 billion on its books, and the remaining $6.6 billion would go into an investment account.

The IMF, which has sold gold before, said it would coordinate the sales with central banks in an effort to prevent market disruptions.

Gold sales would be conducted in a transparent manner with strong safeguards to ensure that they do not add to official sales and avoid any risk of market disruption, the IMF said in a statement.

The Bush administration said in February it could support selling a limited amount of IMF gold as away to ensure the agency’s long-term financial stability, but Treasury officials realized this would be a hard sell. In 1999 Congress rejected a previous proposal to sell IMF gold, and the current majority leader of the Senate, Democrat Harry Reid, comes from the gold-mining state of Nevada.

Strauss-Khan, who took over last November as head of the IMF, said the financial overhaul was another major step in the organization’s reform process. It followed a decision last month to slightly increase the voting power of rapidly developing countries such as China, India and Brazil, who are playing a growing role in the world economy. Since its founding, the United States and European nations have dominated IMF decision-making.

Besides using the gold sales to produce an income stream, the fund’s narrow investment authority will be broadened. E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

IMF may sell 400 tons of gold – found here.

April 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Diana killed by drivers’ negligence

LONDON, England (CNN) — The inquest into the death of Princess Diana in a Paris car crash in 1997 returned a verdict of unlawful killing on Monday, blaming grossly negligent driving by her chauffeur and pursuing photographers for the car wreck.

Coroner Lord Justice Scott Baker, holding the inquest into the deaths of Diana and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, had earlier Monday told the 11 jurors that he would accept a verdict if nine of them agreed. The jury had been deliberating since last Wednesday, April 2.

The jury’s first task was to decide whether French investigators got it right within days of Diana’s death when they concluded that her speeding driver, Henri Paul, was drunk. What do you think of the Diana inquest verdict?

The second issue for the six women and five men was whether the paparazzi who chased the princess around Paris bore a heavy responsibility for the deaths.

On both counts their answer was yes. Watch report on the jury verdict.

Baker also told the jury last week to consider whether Diana and Fayed would have lived if they were wearing seat belts and whether Diana would have survived had she been taken to the hospital faster.

The jury decided that the fact that the couple were not wearing seatbelts was a contributory factor.

After the verdict had been returned, Lord Stevens, who investigated the crash for the British police during an earlier inquiry, said it had been an unprecedented inquest and that he hoped that those killed would now be allowed to rest.

There have been a number of allegations which have been unfortunate, said Stevens, referring to the conspiracy theories raised during the inquest by lawyers for Mohammed al Fayed, father of Dodi. I just hope this can bring closure to what has been a traumatic event for a lot of people.

But a spokeswoman for al Fayed said that he felt vindicated by the jury’s verdict and that he was shocked that senior members of the British royal family, French police, pathologists and the paparazzi among others had not been compelled to give evidence. Al Fayed, who was present for the verdict, said of the couple: I will always mourn their loss to me and to the world, reported his spokeswoman.

Asked whether al Fayed planned to challenge the verdict by means of a High Court judicial review, Michael Coles, al Fayed’s press agent, said: That is a very difficult route but we are keeping all our options open.

The British inquest into the August 31, 1997, deaths began in October after a decade of British and French police investigations and French court proceedings. The jury’s role was to determine how the victims died; it had no authority to blame any individual. See gallery of images related to Diana inquest.

Baker said there was no evidence that the British secret service — or any other government agency — had anything to do with the crash, as Fayed’s father had alleged.

The inquest is the official British inquiry into the deaths of the princess and Fayed while they were fleeing paparazzi photographers. It began October 2 and has cost an estimated 8 million ($16 million), Stevens said. Diana, 36, and 42-year-old Fayed were killed when the Mercedes-Benz they were traveling in hit a pillar in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris.

They were being followed at the time by the paparazzi after leaving the Ritz Hotel. Paul, who was also killed, was drunk and driving at high speed. Bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones was the sole survivor.

More than 240 witnesses have given evidence, including Diana’s close friends, Prince Philip’s private secretary, a former head of the Secret Intelligence Service and Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell.
Diana killed by drivers’ negligence – found here.

April 7, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment