'I will never stop fighting to find my mother's killer'
THE son of murdered French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier has vowed he will never stop campaigning until his mother's killer is brought to justice.
Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud (33) believes that the people of west Cork still live in fear because the killer has not been found and is still walking free 18 years later.
"As long as the truth is not being revealed, I will persist in my search for justice and I will never give up," he said.
"Let me remind you that a murderer is still at large and the people of west Cork are still afraid.
"The real priority is to use the energy of justice to find the murderer before detailing the possible malfunctions of the (Irish) judiciary system." Mr Baudey-Vignaud, who was just 15 when his mother was murdered on December 23, 1996, has pleaded with the Irish authorities to resume co-operation with a Paris-based investigation into the killing.
Co-operation has effectively stalled since the Irish judicial system was rocked by the revelation secret recordings were made of telephone calls at Bandon garda station where the du Plantier murder investigation was centred.
Paris-based Magistrate Patrick Gachon is seeking permission from the Government to allow French detectives travel to Cork to conclude interviews for his six-year probe into the murder.
The secret taping revelations came as part of legal action being taken against Ireland by British-born freelance journalist Ian Bailey (56). Mr Bailey was twice arrested in connection with the investigation but was released without charge on both occasions.
He claimed that efforts were made to frame him for the crime and is now suing the State for wrongful arrest. Two years ago, he successfully fought a French extradition attempt.
But Mr Baudey-Vignaud said co-operation and not controversy should now be the priority in Ireland. "There could be no reasons for the two judiciaries to stop co-operation in searching for the truth and bring the murderer of my mother to (justice)," he said.
"The French investigation is based on testimonies gathered directly by the French investigating teams and on testimonies delivered during the libel action against the press in 2003 by witnesses talking freely to the court.
"It is always better to join efforts to reach the unique and imperative common target, the truth about the murder of my mother 18 years ago in Ireland."
"In addition, the spirit of mutual judiciary assistance driven by the European Union to which Ireland belongs fully should encourage it to cooperate extensively with the French justice."
Mr Baudey-Vignaud, who still owns the isolated holiday cottage at Toormore outside Schull where his mother was found murdered, urged people not to be distracted by recent controversies in Ireland.
"I am not dismayed by what is going on in Ireland, revelations or court proceedings because I consider these developments as pure Irish internal controversies," he said.
"I think that if the Irish file is not perfect, it is not totally wrong and can't be scrapped because of its imperfections.
"I am not bothered by the content of these revelations but only by the delay that they could possibly cause to the search for truth."
He said he still cherishes his memories of his mother, and his first child, a baby girl born two years ago, was named Sophie in her honour.
"I believe that there are still people in Ireland who have something to tell about the murder and who could still speak to help the Garda and the French inquiry judge to find the truth in Ireland.
"The French procedure goes at its own pace in France and nobody can deny the French judge the right to seek testimonies in Ireland into his investigation.
"And I believe that it's what's going to happen because our Irish friends have the same humanity as ourselves. They cannot stand injustice and the ongoing scandal of being unable to find the murderer after so (much) time."