"Agitated" Princess Diana ripped out drip-inquest

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LONDON, Nov 19 (Reuters) French medics had to restrain and sedate Princess Diana, who became so agitated after her Paris car crash that she tore out a drip, the inquest into her death was told today.

In evidence given to the London court probing the 1997 deaths of Diana and her lover Dodi al-Fayed, doctors also said the nature of her injuries indicated her heart had been thrown forward violently in the crash, tearing a key blood vessel.

Emergency specialist Jean-Marc Martino said that in the shattered wreck of the smouldering Mercedes limousine, Diana was ''shouting and saying things in English which were comprehensible but incoherent''.

The inquest is expected to last up to six months and cost up to 20.9 million dollars.

British and French police investigations have concluded that Diana and Dodi died because their chauffeur, Henri Paul, was drunk and drove too fast through a Paris road tunnel. The car crashed into a pillar in the tunnel.

Dodi's father, Harrods owner Mohamed al-Fayed, says Diana and his son were killed by British security services acting on the orders of Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth's husband and Diana's former father-in-law.

Under British law, an inquest is needed to determine the cause of death.

Professor Andre Lienhart, who investigated Diana's medical treatment for a French examining magistrate, spelt out for the jury in detail how she was treated in the battle to save her life on the night of Aug. 31, 1997.

Reviewing Martino's account of how the crash scene was handled, he said by videolink from Paris that an assistant had had to hold Diana's arm firmly to insert a drip, but that she had quickly pulled it out.

''Due to the agitation, the first line, the first drip was removed,'' Lienhart said. ''She was agitated ... she refused treatment,'' he added. ''He decided to inject some drugs to reduce the agitation, for her to accept treatment.'' The inquest, trying to draw a line under a decade of investigations that have sparked numerous conspiracy theories, was dealt a major blow when the paparazzi who chased Diana and Dodi's car into the tunnel refused to testify.

Stephane Darmon, a motorcyclist who drove photographer Romuald Rat around Paris searching for an exclusive shot of the world's most photographed woman, appeared before the London court voluntarily earlier this month by videolink from Paris.

The tough cross-examination he underwent from some of the lawyers is thought to have deterred other paparazzi from giving evidence and to have worried French authorities.

Reuters RSA RS2146

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