Bailey granted extradition appeal
Published 13/04/2011 | 11:10
Former journalist Ian Bailey has won the first step to challenge his extradition to France for questioning over the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
Manchester-born Bailey is wanted by officials in Paris investigating the killing of the French film-maker, who was violently beaten to death in Co Cork 14 years ago.
Mr Bailey, who has denied any involvement in the unsolved killing, was arrested twice over the murder but never charged by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Two plain-clothes detectives had been on standby in the High Court in Dublin to arrest Mr Bailey if he had not been granted a certificate to bring his appeal to the Supreme Court.
Ms Toscan du Plantier, 39, was found dead outside her holiday home at Toormore, near Schull in west Cork, two days before Christmas in 1996.
An investigating magistrate in Paris examining the unsolved murder believes there is sufficient evidence against Mr Bailey to warrant a criminal prosecution.
Mr Justice Michael Peart ruled one of three points of law made by Mr Bailey's legal team was a ground for appeal.
The judge said the extradition of Mr Bailey to France after the DPP decided not to pursue a prosecution in Ireland was of exceptional public importance.
The extradition of a non-Irish citizen from Ireland to France, for an alleged murder committed in Ireland, is unprecedented in Irish and European law.
Mr Bailey's barrister had argued that the case was one of exceptional public interest and could have serious implications for every citizen in the country and should be determined by the multi-judge Supreme Court.
Senior counsel Martin Giblin maintained that anyone's son or daughter who killed or injured a tourist in a car crash could be shipped off to France to face prosecution - even if the authorities here did not believe there was a case to be prosecuted.
However, lawyers for the State believed that his submissions had been an attack on the French justice system, on the system of the European Arrest Warrants, and on the European Framework Decision on extradition.
Outside the court, Mr Bailey's solicitor Frank Buttimer claimed that the du Plantier family are misguided in their view his client had anything to do with their daughter's death.
"I'm satisfied he is innocent," said Mr Buttimer.
"I have looked at this case from every particular point of view that I can.
"I believe, and I've said it publicly, he's been targeted, he's been selected and he continues to be selected as the person who committed the crime, which he did not.
"He has had an extremely difficult life since this crime and since he's been associated with it.
"He continues to protest his innocence.
"He has had to tolerate this situation for all those years."
Mr Bailey launched a legal battle against his extradition after the European Arrest Warrant was executed by police last year.
Under French law, authorities can investigate the suspicious death of a citizen abroad but they cannot compel witnesses to go to Paris for questioning.
Mr Justice Peart had earlier issued an order for the 54-year-old's surrender and committal to France but froze it until the end of his Supreme Court appeal, which is likely to be heard within a year.
His lawyers must lodge the appeal before Friday, when the case will be mentioned in the High Court and Mr Bailey will be bailed on fresh terms.