Man who 'comforted dying Diana' exposed as thief

By Christian Fraser
BBC News, Paris

image captionThe Diana inquest heard Redjil and a friend were near the tunnel at the time of Diana's accident

A French man who claimed to have comforted Princess Diana in her final moments has been exposed as a career criminal.

Abdelatif Redjil was given a five-year sentence in September, with two years suspended, for stealing two Picassos from the home of the painter's granddaughter.

But after sentencing he escaped and has been on the run ever since.

He has now been re-arrested, suspected of a series of cash machine robberies.

Redjil was a key witness throughout the long investigation into the car crash that killed Princess Diana.

The self-styled businessman told the inquest he had held her hand as she lay dying and that she had repeated the words "my God, my God".

But those final moments might well be questioned - because the witness has now been revealed as a career criminal.

Redjil is known to underworld figures as Goldfingers or The Locksmith for his expertise in picking locks.

He escaped from prison guards in September and, while on the run, is said to have stolen thousands of pounds from the safes of cash machines across Paris before being re-arrested last week.

He is also suspected, say police, of playing a leading role in the robbery of an Axa bank in February, in which robbers escaped with 33,000 euros (£28,500) in cash.

The Diana inquest heard that Redjil and his friend were near the tunnel at the time of Diana's accident and had run into it when they heard the crash.

In his statement, Redjil said they had arrived before emergency services to find smoke pouring from the front of the car.

His claims about Diana were always largely accepted as true, though of course there was never tangible evidence to back them up.

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