Monday 18 December 2017

Bailey must wait to learn fate

Tim Healy and Lyndsey Telford

SELF-CONFESSED murder suspect Ian Bailey must wait at least three weeks to learn whether he faces extradition to France to be questioned about the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

The Supreme Court reserved judgment after an arrest warrant from authorities in Paris showed that Mr Bailey was to be quizzed by a magistrate.

Under Irish law, the former journalist can only be extradited to face prosecution.

Ms Du Plantier, a film producer, was found beaten to death outside her holiday home in Schull, west Cork, two days before Christmas in 1996.

A Paris-based investigating magistrate, Patrick Gachon, has indicated on the warrant to the Irish authorities that no decision has been made on whether or not to charge Mr Bailey.

The dramatic twist came on the third day of a Supreme Court appeal against his extradition and almost two years since his detention under a European Arrest Warrant.

Mr Bailey's lawyers have argued that there are no grounds to extradite him.

"The State now concedes that there is no decision to try Mr Bailey," said senior counsel Garrett Simons, for Mr Bailey.

He added: "That should be the end of the matter."

Mr Bailey (54), who has never been charged and has always protested his innocence, has been fighting the request from France since April 2010.

The information that the French have not planned a prosecution only came to light after senior counsel for the State, Robert Barron, produced an arrest warrant from Mr Gachon.

The Supreme Court said it would reserve judgment.

Mr Simons said France should have no right to exercise extra-territorial jurisdiction over Ireland and extradite a British citizen if Ireland could not do the same in a reverse scenario. He argued that this principle of reciprocity was a crucial part of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003.

Mr Simons also referred to the fact that the Act was amended in 2005. The 2003 Act specified that a person should not be surrendered if the offence was committed outside the issuing state of an arrest warrant.

He argued that if Mr Bailey would not have been extradited under the 2003 Act, then he should not be extradited under the amended Act.

The five judges said they would adjourn for two to three weeks before making a ruling.

Meanwhile, Mr Bailey's lawyers have indicated that if the judges rule against them on all three points, they will present further evidence indicating that the garda investigation into Ms Toscan du Plantier's murder was mishandled. This will include the reasons why the DPP decided not to prosecute Mr Bailey.

Earlier in the appeal, the State objected to the use of this evidence, including a review of the murder investigation from former DPP Eamonn Barnes, in which he claimed that gardai were prejudiced against Mr Bailey and botched the case.

The review, which was conducted by the DPP 10 years ago, was handed over to the Department of Justice last October.

Mr Barron argued that the State had been unaware of its existence before then.

"There are substantial grounds of objections by An Garda Siochana, including substantial factual matters," said Mr Barron.

But he said that producing the document in court would not be in the public's interest and would result in a public spat between gardai and the DPP. He added: "It is not in the public interest to debate issues between An Garda Siochana and the DPP. They would prefer not to be having a public spat."

Irish Independent

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