Saturday 22 July 2017

European court may be asked to rule on Bailey's extradition

Ian Bailey: issue of reciprocity is ‘an extant road block’ to extradition Photo: Collins
Ian Bailey: issue of reciprocity is ‘an extant road block’ to extradition Photo: Collins
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A European court could be asked to decide on a key issue that blocked the extradition of Ian Bailey to France five years ago.

Lawyers for Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said they wished to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) before pressing ahead with a new extradition request.

The journalist is facing a charge of voluntary homicide in Paris over the death of filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork in 1996.

At a European arrest warrant hearing yesterday, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said he did not believe a referral to the ECJ was necessary at present as all he was tasked with deciding was whether or not to endorse the warrant.

Lawyers for the minister are now expected to return to the ECJ issue at a future hearing.

Endorsement by the High Court is a legal hurdle which must be negotiated before the warrant can be executed.

Mr Justice Hunt said the paperwork appeared to be in order and he planned to endorse it next Thursday unless Mr Bailey's legal team can convince him otherwise.

He signalled Mr Bailey is likely to be freed on bail afterwards.

Mr Bailey was not present in court for the hearing. His barrister, Ronan Munro SC, said Mr Bailey was objecting to the process as the Supreme Court had already decided in 2012 that he should not be extradited.

Read More: Judge plans to endorse warrant seeking Ian Bailey's extradition

Mr Munro said Mr Bailey's appeal of a case in which he alleged Garda misconduct was due to begin next week and questioned the timing of the application for the endorsement.

The barrister said the Supreme Court previously identified two issues for refusing extradition. One of these was no longer an issue, he said.

However, the second, known as reciprocity, had not changed and was "an extant road block".

This was a finding by the Supreme Court that although French law allows for prosecutions in relation to crimes against French nationals abroad there was no similar law in Ireland, and as a result Mr Bailey could not be extradited.

Robert Barron SC, for Ms Fitzgerald, said his side was seeking to have the issue referred to the ECJ.

Irish Independent

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