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French magistrate says she was not informed of decision to embalm Diana's body

A French magistrate said Tuesday that she had not authorized the embalming of Princess Diana's body and no one from the British Embassy had discussed embalming with her.

Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi died with Diana in a car crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997, has claimed that the British ambassador ordered the embalming to cover up a pregnancy.

Maud Morel Coujard, who was a deputy public prosecutor in Paris in 1997, told the British inquest that she had not been informed of the decision to embalm the body and said she had had no contact with the British Embassy.

Coujard confirmed that she authorized the release of the bodies of Diana and Fayed after they had been examined. She said authorization was a legal necessity before any embalming could take place.

The British inquest jury had heard earlier that embalming was undertaken to prevent the rapid decay of the body in the warm, late-summer weather.

Al Fayed has alleged that embalming Diana in France was illegal and was carried out to conceal that she was carrying Dodi Fayed's child. He claims the embalming was conducted on instructions from MI6, the British intelligence agency, and that MI6's instructions were conveyed to then-Ambassador Michael Jay, who communicated them to Coujard.

"Is there any truth in that whatsoever?" lawyer Ian Burnett asked.

"No," Coujard replied.

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