Wednesday 28 September 2016

'I'll never give up fight for justice for my mother'

Sophie Toscan du Plantier's son asks Irish people to support family's search for truth

Published 06/08/2016 | 02:30

Pierre-Louis Baudley-Vignaud in Bantry, west Cork. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Pierre-Louis Baudley-Vignaud in Bantry, west Cork. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

The son of murdered French film executive Sophie Toscan du Plantier has urged Irish people to do everything they can to support a forthcoming trial in France over his mother's killing.

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Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud (35), who is currently on holidays in west Cork, welcomed the news that French authorities have signalled a trial process almost 20 years after Ms du Plantier (39) was viciously battered to death during a pre-Christmas break at her Toormore holiday home.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Getty Images
Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Getty Images

The French are now expected to launch a fresh bid to have British freelance journalist Ian Bailey (59) extradited.

In 2012, the Supreme Court threw out a French extradition bid after Paris had issued a European arrest warrant for Mr Bailey over the December 23, 1996 killing.

Mr Bailey's legal team, who dismissed the proposed French prosecution as "an outrage" and "a show trial", said they had received no notification of any impending extradition request.

Mr Bailey, who was in west Cork yesterday, said he had "absolutely no comment to make".

The memorial headstone where Sophie’s body was discovered at the du Planter family holiday home near Toormore, Schull, west Cork. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
The memorial headstone where Sophie’s body was discovered at the du Planter family holiday home near Toormore, Schull, west Cork. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

He has repeatedly maintained his innocence and claimed that sinister attempts were made to "stitch me up" for the crime.

Mr Bailey was arrested in 1997 and 1998 by gardaí in connection with their investigation but released without charge on both occasions.

However, Sophie's son, her family and the ASSOPH support association welcomed the impending French trial and paid tribute to Magistrates Nathalie Turquey and Patrick Gachon for their work since 2008.

"It is very good news - it is news that we have waited a very long time for," Mr Baudey-Vignaud said.

Sophie’s parents Georges and Marguerite Bouniol. Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Sophie’s parents Georges and Marguerite Bouniol. Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

"It is news that we have waited almost 20 years for. We have hope. I have always said that as long as the truth was not revealed, I will never give up the campaign for justice for my mother. I will never give up.

"People should also remember that a murderer is still out there."

Mr Baudey-Vignaud inherited the Toormore cottage bought by his mother as her "dream home" in 1991.

Read more: French in fresh bid to extradite Bailey over the murder of Sophie

Read more: Ian Bailey facing 'show trial' in France over murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier - lawyer

Despite the fact that she was murdered just 100 metres from the property - the spot is marked by a simple Celtic cross - he insisted on retaining the cottage and now holidays there every summer.

Mr Baudey-Vignaud was only 15 when his mother was killed and he named his eldest daughter, Sophie (4), in her memory.

"Time is very important to us now. It is not our friend," he said. Mr Baudey-Vignaud's grandparents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, are now in their 90s and in frail health. However, almost every year since 1996 they have attended the spot in west Cork where their only daughter was murdered.

"They have waited a long time for justice. My hope now is that we will arrive at the end of the story, we will have an outcome, before they die," said Mr Baudey-Vignaud.

Sadly, he admitted that the family had "long ago" resigned themselves to having a trial in France, rather than in Ireland, where the crime was committed.

"That is why we are so grateful to the French magistrates," he said.

But he urged the Irish authorities - and potential Irish witnesses - to now support the family in their search for the truth.

"That is what we would ask now - that people help us in our campaign for justice."

French magistrates cannot compel Irish witnesses to attend the Paris trial, which is likely to be in mid-2017.

While they can rely on sworn witness statements and video-interviews, the family would prefer if as many witnesses as possible agreed to attend in person.

"Our Irish friends have the same humanity as ourselves. Like us, they cannot tolerate an injustice," said Mr Baudey-Vignaud.

Irish Independent

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