Thursday 27 April 2017

Court will be asked to endorse European arrest warrant for extradition of Bailey to face trial in France

Journalist Ian Bailey Picture: Collins Courts
Journalist Ian Bailey Picture: Collins Courts

Ralph Riegel and Shane Phelan

The High Court will be asked on Monday to endorse a European arrest warrant seeking the extradition of Ian Bailey to France to stand trial for the murder of filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

An application will be made to Mr Justice Tony Hunt on behalf of the French authorities by lawyers for Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

The application is set to be strongly resisted by Mr Bailey, who has always denied any involvement in the murder of the 39-year-old French woman in west Cork in 1996.

French authorities issued the European arrest warrant last July following an eight-year investigation by French magistrate.

They launched a probe under a law allowing for investigations into the deaths of French nationals abroad after a Garda investigation failed to lead to anyone being charged.

Judge Nathalie Turquey, who took over the French investigation from Judge Patrick Gachon last year, delivered an indictment order on July 27 to start a criminal case against Mr Bailey in Paris for voluntary homicide.

It is the second time French authorities have sought to extradite Mr Bailey, a former journalist who reported on Ms Toscan du Plantier's murder.

The Supreme Court rejected a previous attempt in 2012.

The investigation by French authorities has cost in excess of €3m. They are now confident that the majority of 40 Irish witnesses, the bulk of whom were interviewed as part of the original Garda murder probe, will travel to Paris for the planned trial later this year.

Injunction

Mr Bailey's solicitor, Frank Buttimer, confirmed they would seek an immediate injunction if any attempt was made to act on the second arrest warrant.

Mr Bailey said the support of his partner Jules Thomas, friends, neighbours and even complete strangers was what kept him going.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Sophie Toscan du Plantier

"Jules and I have received an awful lot of support from complete strangers," he said.

"It is something that is very encouraging, humbling but nice. We both receive many messages from the ordinary people of Ireland including many Mass cards and messages from people saying they are praying for us."

Mr Bailey now plans to publish a book of poetry entitled 'The West Cork Way' in a bid to keep his focus on his life and literary career.

However, the French are determined to press ahead with a Paris murder trial.

All Irish witnesses will have their travel and subsistence expenses in Paris paid for by the French judiciary.

Mr Bailey was last month served with formal notification by the Paris authorities that he has been charged with Ms du Plantier's murder and will face trial in France. He also faces a second charge of allegedly attempting to interfere with a judicial process.

However, under French law, Mr Bailey can be tried in absentia.

He has vehemently protested his innocence in relation to the death of Ms du Plantier on December 23, 1996 at Toormore in Schull, west Cork.

She was found battered to death on a laneway leading to her isolated holiday home.

The mother of one had apparently tried to flee from an intruder at her home just hours before she was due to fly back to France for Christmas.

Mr Bailey was twice arrested by gardaí in 1997 and 1998 for questioning in relation to the matter but was released without charge on both occasions.

Read More: Q&A: How likely is it that he will be extradited?

Mr Bailey has insisted that sinister attempts were made to "stitch me up" for the crime.

He said being wrongly associated with the awful crime for the past 20 years has been "like a torture".

"The reality is that I am going to live with this for the rest of my life," he said.

"That is whether I am extradited to France and imprisoned or whether I live out my life here in Ireland. I believe that, at this stage, the likelihood is that this (torture) will really only end when I pass. It has been a nightmare."

French prosecutors want the Paris Criminal Court trial to involve as many witnesses as possible from the original investigation into the murder.

The French investigation was launched following pressure from Sophie's family after the Irish authorities said no prosecution was ever likely here.

Irish Independent

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