Saturday 25 May 2019

French to press ahead with Bailey trial over Sophie murder

Ian Bailey. Photo: Collins
Ian Bailey. Photo: Collins

Ralph Riegel

French authorities are set to proceed with a Paris-based murder trial of Ian Bailey over the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier within months.

Prosecutors in France are now pressing ahead with preparations for the long-planned trial after English-born journalist Mr Bailey (60) lost a French Supreme Court bid to block the case last May.

It was his final avenue of challenge in France to a murder trial being taken by the Paris authorities over the killing of the film executive and mother of one in west Cork on December 23, 1996.

She was found battered to death on the laneway leading to her isolated holiday home at Toormore, outside Schull.

No one was ever charged with her killing in Ireland despite one of the biggest murder investigations in the history of the State.

The French launched their own Paris-based inquiry into Ms du Plantier's death when it became clear no-one was likely to be charged in Ireland.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Last night, one French legal source indicated that the European Court of Human Rights challenge flagged by Mr Bailey will likely have no bearing on the timing of the French criminal proceedings. While it is hoped the trial may be ready by October, any delays over witnesses or evidence could stall proceedings until early 2019.

However, French prosecutors want the trial to proceed as quickly as possible given that their original investigation was launched almost a decade ago.

A support group, called ASSOPH, founded in France to support Sophie's family, warned the Irish authorities to fully comply with European commitments on judicial co-operation.

In 2012, Mr Bailey successfully appealed to the Supreme Court against his extradition to France.

"Even if I am tried for murder in France and found guilty under their Napoleonic code of law, all they will have done is convict an innocent person," Mr Bailey said.

Irish Independent

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