Two paparazzi released on pounds 10,000 bail

Freelance worked for top agency
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The Independent Online
There was speculation yesterday about the reason the French public prosecutor requested the holding in custody of two photographers, Christian Martinez and Romuald Rat, who were later freed on pounds 10,000 bail and banned from press work while the case continued.

It was suggested that Mr Martinez, at least, may have been one of the photographers known to have taken photographs of the Princess of Wales as she lay injured in the wrecked Mercedes.

Mr Martinez, 35, although a freelance, does much of his work for the agency of Italian-born Daniel Angeli, France's top paparazzo and the man credited with taking the pictures of the Duchess of York having her toes sucked by her "financial adviser" Johnny Bryan in the south of France.

He is understood to have worked with the pack for around 15 years, but colleagues were loath yesterday to reveal more details. A photographer friend of Mr Martinez said that he personally had received death threats after appearing on television discussing the work of the paparazzi. "Someone telephoned the agency and threatened to kill me," he said.

The friend was alarmed that although the chauffeur had been shown to be drunk, the paparazzi were still being blamed. "The damage has been done. The judge has heard of the paparazzi now." Asked whether Angeli's agency knew anything of Mr Martinez's involvement in Sunday's crash, the friend gestured towards the room where the hearing was taking place, and said: "The only person who knows is in there."

Mr Martinez's lawyer is one of France's leading advocates, Gilbert Collard, who is based in Marseilles, but Mr Collard had sent a representative to thehearing yesterday. Romuald Rat - who has, unsurprisingly been christened Roland Rat by British journalists - is about 30 years old and lives in Montreuil- sur-Bois, just outside Paris. He works mainly for the Gamma agency and is regarded as an experienced paparazzo.

At the Palais de Justice he was represented by Jean-Marc Coblence, the lawyer also speaking for Stephane Darmon, 30, who works as a driver for Gamma, and also for Serge Arnal, a freelance.

Many were surprised to discover the name of Jacques Langevin, 40, among those held. Not a paparazzo, he is most widely known for his award-winning pictures of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Peking. He was working for the agency Sygma on Sunday but formerly worked for the international news agency Reuters. Hubert Henrotte, a director of Sygma, has said Mr Langevin had nothing to do with what happened and had never been one of those photographers involved in chasing personalities.

Mr Langevin told the daily newspaper Liberation: "Everything seems so absurd and stupid....I've the impression of having fallen into a net." He claimed he came on the crash scene will driving home, after photographing the couple leaving the Ritz.

Langevin said he arrived about 10 minutes after the crash and took some pictures. The emergency services had taken out the body of Mr Fayed and were trying to revive him, and were seeking to help the other victims. He learnt later that photographers had alerted the emergency services by mobile phone.

Nicolas Arsov, who is aged about 30, works for the agency Sipa and is known as Nico. Serge Arnal, 35, is a freelance well known around the glitzy nightlife of Paris and at the annual Cannes film festival. Laszlo Veres, 48, is also a freelance who normally deals with newspapers and magazines directly and not through agencies.

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