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Diana Photographers Get Slap On Wrist

A Paris appeals court ordered three photographers to pay one euro ($1.19) total in damages for invasion of privacy for taking pictures of Britain's Princess Diana and boyfriend Dodi Fayed the night of their fatal 1997 car crash, officials said Wednesday.

The appeals court ordered the symbolic damages - about 40 cents apiece – be paid to Dodi's father Mohamed Al-Fayed. The court's ruling was handed down on Friday, but was not announced until Wednesday.

The judges clearly accepted the argument that a car is a private space and thus protected from intrusive photographers under French law, reports CBS News correspondent Elaine Cobbe. French privacy laws are notoriously strict, but usually, the damages are much higher. One euro is the smallest possible amount the court can award.

Jacques Langevin, Christian Martinez and Fabrice Chassery were acquitted of the invasion of privacy charges in 2003 after judges said a crashed vehicle on a public highway is not a private area.

But France's highest court disagreed in a ruling last April and sent the case to the Paris appeals court for review.

The court also ordered them to pay for the publication of announcements of the conviction in three newspapers or magazines.

Fayed's father, Egyptian-born billionaire Mohammed Al Fayed, filed the invasion of privacy complaint. Diana's relatives and the British royal family were not plaintiffs in the case, which focused on three photos of the couple leaving the Ritz Hotel by car and three after the accident on Aug. 31, 1997, in a tunnel alongside the River Seine.

The photographers, whose photos were confiscated and not published, were among the swarm of photographers who pursued the car carrying Diana and Fayed across Paris, and took photos after it slammed into the pillar of the traffic tunnel.

The judges in the appeals court determined that the photographers invaded Fayed's privacy twice: First with photos of the couple as they emerged from the Ritz, and later by photographing him in the crashed car.

Fayed and driver Henri Paul were killed instantly. Diana died later in a hospital. Only the bodyguard survived. A five-year investigation into the crash concluded that Paul had been drinking and was speeding.

In 2002, France's highest court dropped manslaughter charges against nine photographers - including Langevin, Martinez and Chassery.