Extradition case starts as Sophie's family fly in
THE family of slain French mother Sophie Toscan du Plantier flew into Ireland yesterday to mark the 14th anniversary of her killing next week.
Sophie's parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, and her aunt, Marie-Madeline Opalka, arrived at Cork Airport from Paris as the High Court will today hear an extradition application by the French authorities for former British journalist Ian Bailey (53).
Sophie's mother stressed to the Irish Independent that their anniversary visit was "owed to our daughter".
Speaking via an interpreter, she said the family can never forget the terrible suffering that Sophie endured as she fled her killer only to be chased down and then brutally murdered.
"We are old now, so we will not suffer for many years more," she said. "We do not wish what we are living for anyone.
"We could not come (to Ireland) last year but we are happy to come back this year because we owe it to our daughter.
"She (Sophie) suffered so much when she tried to escape and then she was hunted down. She suffered so much that we want to suffer as well."
Mrs Bouniol said they would never forget Sophie and would never stop hoping for justice for their daughter.
Sophie's elderly parents were accompanied by a member of the Sophie Toscan du Plantier Truth Association, a campaign group established by her friends to press for judicial action in France over the killing.
Next Sunday, the family will attend an anniversary Mass for Sophie in Goleen in west Cork after following their annual tradition of placing a wreath of white lilies at the foot of the stone Celtic cross that marks the spot where Sophie's body was discovered.
Today's High Court extradition case is expected to prove a landmark in Irish law with no one ever having been extradited to another country for questioning in relation to an alleged offence that occurred in this jurisdiction.
Mr Bailey has repeatedly protested his innocence in relation to the matter and insisted that "sinister" attempts have been made over the years to frame him for the crime.
Thursday next, December 23, marks the 14th anniversary of the death of Sophie (39), who was battered to death on a laneway leading to her isolated holiday home at Toormore, outside Schull, west Cork, in 1996. No one has ever been charged in relation to her killing.
Mr Bailey's legal team has vowed to fight the extradition request.