Ian Bailey faces three week wait to learn if he faces extradition to France
Published 18/01/2012 | 13:19
A BRITISH man wanted in France over the murder of a film-maker in Ireland 15 years ago must wait at least three weeks to learn if he faces extradition, the Supreme Court in Dublin has ruled.
Judgment was reserved after an arrest warrant from authorities in Paris showed Ian Bailey was wanted for questioning by a magistrate over the killing of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
Irish law dictates the 54-year-old former journalist should only be extradited to face prosecution.
The producer was found beaten to death outside her holiday home in Schull, west Cork, two days before Christmas 1996.
Paris-based investigating magistrate Patrick Gachon has indicated on the warrant to Irish authorities that no decision has been made to charge Mr Bailey.
The dramatic twist came on the third day of a Supreme Court appeal against his extradition and almost two years since his detention under European Arrest Warrant.
Mr Bailey's lawyers have argued there are no grounds to extradite him.
"The State now concedes that there is no decision to try Mr Bailey," said senior counsel Garrett Simons.
"It should be clear that that should be the end of the matter."
Mr Bailey, a one-time suspect in the Irish investigation who has always protested his innocence, has been fighting the request from France since April 2010.
He was never charged or prosecuted by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Magistrate Mr Gachon was appointed by authorities in Paris in 2008 to run an independent inquiry into Ms Toscan du Plantier's murder. Under French law authorities can investigate the death of a citizen overseas.
The information that the French have not planned a prosecution only came to light after senior counsel for the State Robert Barron produced a translated arrest warrant from Mr Gachon.
The Supreme Court said it would reserve judgment on the matter, along with two other points of law opposing the extradition order and argued by Mr Bailey's lawyers during two days of hearings at the Four Courts.
Mr Simons said France should have no right to exercise extra-territorial jurisdiction over Ireland and extradite a British citizen if Ireland could not do the same in a reverse scenario.
He argued that this principle of reciprocity was a crucial part of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003.
Mr Simons also referred to the fact that the Act was amended in 2005. The 2003 Act specified that a person should not be surrendered if the offence was committed outside the issuing state of an arrest warrant.
He argued that if Mr Bailey would not have been extradited under the 2003 Act, he should not be extradited under the amended Act.
The judges - Chief Justice Mrs Susan Denham, Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, Mr Justice John Murray and Mr Justice Nial Fennelly - said they would adjourn for two to three weeks before making a ruling.
Meanwhile, Mr Bailey's lawyers have indicated that should the judges rule against all three points, they will present further evidence indicating that the Garda investigation into Ms Toscan du Plantier's murder had been mishandled.
It outlines the reasons why the DPP decided not to prosecute Bailey for the murder.
Earlier in the appeal, the State objected to the use of this evidence, including a review of the murder investigation from former DPP Eamonn Barnes - in which he claimed that Gardai were prejudiced against Mr Bailey and botched the case.
The review, which was conducted by the DPP 10 years ago, was handed over to the Department of Justice last October.
Mr Barron argued that the State had been unaware it existed before then.
"There are substantial grounds of objections by Garda Siochana including substantial factual matters," said Mr Barron.
But Mr Barron argued that producing the document in court would not be in the public's interest and would result in a public spat between Gardai and the DPP.
"It is not in the public interest to debate issues between the Garda Siochana and the DPP.
"They would prefer not to be having a public spat."