Subject: Times: Diana crash survivor to rebuild life in East Timor

The Times (London, UK) September 5 2000

Diana crash survivor to rebuild life in East Timor


TREVOR REES-JONES, the sole survivor of the car crash in which Diana, Princess of Wales, died, has started a new life in one of the world's most dangerous troublespots.

The former bodyguard to the Princess and Dodi Fayed has taken up the post of deputy head of security for the United Nations in Suai, East Timor, which is at the centre of running battles with armed militia.

Tomorrow sees the first anniversary of the massacre of 200 men, women and children in the town, which is close to the disputed border with West Timor.

Mr Rees-Jones, 32, who underwent massive reconstructive surgery on his face after the Paris crash three years ago, is on a one-year contract alongside UN peacekeepers from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Pakistan. Two UN peacekeepers were recently killed in the town in clashes with the Indonesian-backed rebels.

The former British paratrooper arrived quietly on August 4 only weeks after making an emotional pilgrimage for the first time to the Princess's last resting place.

Mr Rees-Jones, whose book The Bodyguard's Story comprehensively rejected Mohamed Al Fayed's conspiracy theories about the crash in which his son also died, spent two hours at the island grave at Althorp, Northamptonshire.

The trip was planned after he decided to leave Britain to try to rebuild his life 8,500 miles away from the constant reminders of the crash. Mr Rees-Jones went to live in his family home in Oswestry after he recovered from his injuries, and worked for a security firm. He has studiously avoided publicity and declined to speak about his new role.

But his life in Suai is in stark contrast to that of personal bodyguard in the Al Fayed empire. He sleeps in a rundown building that has come under fire from the militia. He runs the risk of contracting dengue fever and malaria, which have struck a quarter of the Timor-based soldiers this year.

Tomorrow up to 10,000 people are expected to attend a memorial service at Suai Cathedral, where the massacre took place last year in the aftermath of the disturbances that followed the 78 per cent vote for independence from Indonesia. The local militia embarked on a nationwide rampage that left thousands dead and sent hundreds of thousands fleeing.

Suai, in southwestern East Timor, is the headquarters for more than 2,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers who have been in regular clashes with well-armed militia patrols crossing from West Timor.

Mr Rees-Jones, a key figure in the security arrangements, still has physical and emotional scars from the crash. In his book he branded as a myth the claims that the Princess and Dodi Fayed chose an engagement ring while holidaying in Monte Carlo just before their deaths.

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