Judge will take time to consider Ian Bailey extradition
The first round in the lengthy legal battle to determine whether Ian Bailey should be extradited to France to face questioning about the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier was put on hold yesterday.
The State made an application to the High Court to endorse the European arrest warrant, which had been received from the French authorities.
But Mr Justice Michael Peart said he wanted time to consider the issues involved and reserved his decision for a few weeks.
The warrant cannot be implemented until it has been endorsed by the High Court.
It emerged last week that the warrant had been sent to the Department of Justice in March and had been under consideration by Attorney General Paul Gallagher.
Ms Toscan du Plantier was murdered in December 1996, while she was on holiday in west Cork. Mr Bailey (53), a former freelance journalist who is in the final year of a law degree at UCC, was arrested and questioned twice by gardai in 1997 and 1998.
He has consistently proclaimed his innocence and his solicitor Frank Buttimer has said his client will vigorously oppose the French move.
The warrant was issued by a Paris-based magistrate, Patrick Gachon, who was appointed two years ago to carry out an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident in which Ms Toscan du Plantier was beaten to death outside her holiday home in Toormore, near Schull.
If the warrant is endorsed, gardai will then arrest Mr Bailey and take him before the courts.
The legal process could go all the way to the Supreme Court, and possibly the European courts, before it is finally determined, and lawyers reckon this could take up to a year to be resolved.
If the French attempt is successful in the courts, it will represent a landmark decision as it means that a citizen will be extradited to another country for the first time for questioning about a crime committed here.
Mr Buttimer has described the move as "nonsense" and said it would be extraordinary if the application was successful when the Director of Public Prosecutions had already decided that his client had no case to answer.