Sunday 28 May 2017

Judge plans to endorse warrant seeking Ian Bailey's extradition

Ian Bailey. Photo: Courts Collins
Ian Bailey. Photo: Courts Collins
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A High Court judge has signalled he will endorse a European arrest warrant for Ian Bailey over the murder of French filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier next week.

The move is a legal hurdle which must be jumped before the warrant is executed and Mr Bailey is arrested.

But Mr Bailey is likely to be freed on bail immediately afterwards, a court heard today.

At a hearing this morning Mr Justice Tony Hunt said that unless lawyers for Mr Bailey could convince him otherwise, he would endorse the warrant next Thursday.

He said that “on the face of things” the warrant appeared to be in order.

Mr Bailey was not present in court for the hearing.

His barrister Ronan Munro SC said his client was objecting to the process as the Director of Public Prosecutions had decided not to charge Mr Bailey with murder here and the Supreme Court had already decided in 2012 that Mr Bailey should not be extradited to France.

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.

He said Mr Bailey had learned last August via the media that a fresh warrant had been issued for his arrest in Paris.

However, the warrant was not brought before an Irish court until March 7.

Mr Munro said Mr Bailey’s solicitor had written to the legal team for Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald asking when exactly the warrant had been received and seeking an explanation for the delay in bringing it to court.

He said a response was received this morning which did not answer the questions.

Mr Munro said it appeared Irish authorities had the warrant for six months. He said the matter was “distressing” for Mr Bailey and that his instructions were to object to the proceedings as extradition had previously been adjudicated on.

Mr Justice Hunt asked if this could be right as it was a different warrant and different issues may arise.

Mr Munro said the Supreme Court previously identified two issues for refusing extradition.

One of these was no longer an issue, he said.

However, the second issue, 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 the murder of French nationals abroad there was no similar law in Ireland, and as a result Mr Bailey could not be extradited.

Robert Barron SC, for the Justice Minister, said his side was seeking to have that issue referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) before a decision is taken on whether or not to to endorse the warrant.

However, Mr Justice Hunt said he did not see the need to refer the issue to the ECJ before he made a decision on the endorsement of the warrant.

“I am going to decide under the domestic Act,” he said.

The judge also said he didn’t feel the need to deal with the application before Mr Bailey’s case in the Court of Appeal was heard.

He said Mr Bailey seemed “to have a lot of issues on his plate” and he did not want to add impinge further on him.

The judge added that he didn’t see how any issue would arise over bail.

Adjourning the matter to next Thursday, he said: “I do believe on the face of it the warrant satisfies the Act and that I should endorse the warrant.

“Unless Mr Munro comes up with an argument as to why I shouldn’t endorse it on the next occasion, I will endorse it.”

Mr Justice Hunt added that an endorsement did not represent a decision on the merit side’s arguments over the other.

Should the warrant be endorsed, Mr Bailey is expected to lodge an appeal.

He was arrested twice in connection with the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier outside her west Cork holiday home in December 1996. However, he was never charged and has always denied any involvement in her death.

An official in the DPP’s office criticised the garda investigation and said there was evidence which pointed to Mr Bailey’s innocence.

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