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'Diana comforter' exposed as crook

A man who claimed he held the hand of Diana, Princess of Wales and tried to comfort her as she lay dyinghas been exposed as a career criminal.

Abdelatif Redjil told the inquest into her death in a car crash that he was with her as she uttered her final words in the back of her Mercedes in a Paris tunnel.

Giving evidence at the High Court in London in November 2007, he said she repeated "My God, My God", while he told her not to worry.

But his evidence was thrown into doubt by reports across the French media that Redjil was prosecuted for handling three stolen works by Picasso valued at 50 million euros (£43 million).

Known as "the locksmith" for his ability to open locks without leaving any traces, he managed to escape during his trial and went on to commit a series of cash machine robberies, it was reported.

But he was re-arrested and taken into custody last Wednesday, before being jailed in the French capital on Friday, newspaper Le Figaro reported.

The 54-year-old's criminal activities were halted after judicial police in Meaux, north east of Paris, tracked him down, a police source said.

While on the run, he had stolen almost 33,000 euros from ATMs.

The Picasso works were stolen in 2007 from the Parisian home of the artist's granddaughter.

Redjil told the inquest into Diana's death that he and his friend Belkacem Bouzid were passing the Pont de l'Alma Tunnel in the early hours of August 31 1997 when they heard the sounds of an accident and ran inside to help.

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