Sunday 18 August 2019

Experts probe if court challenge could stall Bailey extradition bid

Convicted: Ian Bailey fears an extradition bid after the verdict. Photo: Mark Condren
Convicted: Ian Bailey fears an extradition bid after the verdict. Photo: Mark Condren

Ralph Riegel

A European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) challenge by Ian Bailey could allow Ireland to delay resolving any fresh French extradition bid for him.

The Manchester-born journalist said he expects an immediate attempt by the French authorities to seek his extradition from west Cork on foot of a third European Arrest Warrant (EAW) following his conviction last week before a Paris court for the murder of mother-of-one Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39).

The Cour d'Assises or Paris Criminal High Court convicted Mr Bailey (62) in absentia of the killing on December 23, 1996.

Mr Bailey, who has consistently protested his innocence of the crime and was told he faced no action from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) here, was sentenced to 25 years in jail by Judge Frederique Aline.

However, following his failure last year to halt the Paris prosecution in the French courts, Mr Bailey signalled a challenge to the ECHR.

He acknowledged that the ECHR bid would not halt the Paris court from trying him in absentia.

Now, Irish legal experts are studying whether the ECHR challenge - and the landmark European legal issues involved in the French extradition bid for Mr Bailey - could allow the Government and judiciary here valuable time before having to rule on any fresh French EAW.

The extradition move threatens to put the Irish and French authorities on a judicial and diplomatic collision course - and potentially face the European judiciary with the first extradition case of its kind where a person was convicted of murder in one European country but with the crime having occurred in another EU member state.

Ireland has already been warned by Ms du Plantier's family that it must fully comply with existing European agreements for judicial co-operation. Any failure to comply with judicial co-operation agreements will see Ms du Plantier's family press for France to take formal action against Ireland at EU level.

In 2012 the Supreme Court refused to extradite Mr Bailey to France for questioning by Paris prosecutors.

In 2015, a second French warrant for Mr Bailey did not progress beyond the High Court.

However, the Paris authorities will now seek Mr Bailey's extradition on the basis that, under French law, he is a convicted murderer.

Mr Bailey said he understood that the latest warrant was sent to Dublin by the French authorities on Friday evening, hours after the verdict.

"The knock on the door (from gardaí) could come at any time," Mr Bailey said.

Irish Independent

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