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French lab narrows down clues to mystery car in Diana's crash

Investigators could be inching closer to finding the mystery car that may have sideswiped the Mercedes that Princess Diana was riding in shortly before it crashed in a Paris tunnel in August.

Police have determined that white paint chips found on the Mercedes came from a Fiat Uno made before 1987, officials close to the investigation said Thursday.

The painstaking tests are being conducted by the top police crime lab in Paris. Last week, scientists submitted a partial report with the new information to Judge Herve Stephan, who is investigating the case, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

Diana's companion, Dodi Fayed, and driver, Henri Paul, died in the Aug. 31 crash. Diana died in a hospital a few hours later. Bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, the only survivor, is recovering in Britain.

For weeks, police have been combing records of about 112,000 Fiat Unos registered in the Paris area.

The police lab's report said the paint traces appear to match the paint used by the Italian auto-maker between 1983, when the car was first manufactured, and the end of August 1987.

The lab also has been analyzing traces of black material found on the right side of the Mercedes. The report finds that the traces correspond to the material used by Fiat in its bumpers.

That would support the theory that the Mercedes hit the back of the Fiat. Police have said that pieces of a taillight found in the tunnel _ mixed with pieces of the Mercedes' headlight _ came from a Fiat Uno.

The probe also has focused on Paul, who was speeding and legally drunk at the time, and on several photographers who were pursuing the car.

Lawyers for the photographers say they are confident their clients will be cleared of any responsibility. The investigation could take months more, however.

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