Monday 27 January 2020

Ian Bailey facing 'show trial' in France over murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier - lawyer

Ian Bailey arriving at the Four Courts for a previous hearing
Ian Bailey arriving at the Four Courts for a previous hearing

Ralph Riegel and Agencies

Ian Bailey is facing the prospect of a "show trial" in France over the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier 20 years ago, his lawyer has claimed.

Bailey was arrested twice but never charged with the brutal killing of Sophie Toscan du Plantier on an isolated hillside in Toormore, near Schull, west Cork two days before Christmas in 1996.

He has always vehemently denied any involvement.

The Association for the Truth about the Murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier (Assoph), founded by the dead woman's family, has been told that Mr Bailey is facing a second extradition warrant and a charge of voluntary homicide.

One of the lawyers working with Assoph, Laurent Pettiti, said the group was notified that an indictment of voluntary homicide was issued by the investigating magistrate in Paris, Nathalie Turquey, on July 27 and a European Arrest Warrant was sent to Irish authorities on July 13.

Frank Buttimer, solicitor for Mr Bailey, said the reported moves in Paris would lead to a "show trial".

Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

"The Irish prosecutorial authorities have ruled there is no evidence in which (Mr Bailey) can be tried in this jurisdiction and France is going to use, it seems, evidence that the previous Director of Public Prosecutions described as flawed and prejudiced to put him on trial," he said.

Mr Buttimer said it would result "in what will be a show trial to satisfy French interests in circumstances where the injustice to Mr Bailey is appalling".

"Ian Bailey has had an extremely difficult life due to his being wrongly associated with this crime," he said.

"It continues to be his life. This is the next phase of the injustice."

Mr Bailey had not been informed of any legal moves in France against him, as he "is never told anything by the authorities", Mr Buttimer said.

Under French law, authorities can investigate the suspicious death of a citizen abroad.

The penalty for voluntary homicide is up to 30 years in jail. has learned that Mr Bailey was informed of the action when a Belgian journalist contacted him at his home in West Cork on Thursday morning.

Sophie was found battered to death on an isolated lane way to her holiday home at Toormore outside Schull in west Cork on December 23 1996.

She had been beaten to death as she apparently attempted to flee from an intruder at her home.

Ian Bailey (centre) and his partner Jules Thomas and solicitor Frank Buttimer
Ian Bailey (centre) and his partner Jules Thomas and solicitor Frank Buttimer

Ms du Plantier had been spending a brief holiday in Ireland at her holiday home before planning to fly back to France to spend Christmas with her family.

Mr Bailey was arrested twice by Gardai in connection with the matter in 1997 and 1998.

He was released without charge on both occasions.

He has since repeatedly claimed that attempts were made to "stitch him up" for the crime.

Mr Bailey has also vehemently protested his innocence.

When no-one was every charged with the killing in Ireland, the French authorities - under pressure from Sophie's family and friends - launched their own probe.

This was under Paris-based Magistrate Patrick Gachon and enjoyed the co-operation of the Irish authorities.

This included allowing elite French police units access to the original murder file and the ability to re-interview all the original witnesses.

French police units had made multiple trips to Ireland over the past five years.

Six years ago, the French issued a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) seeking the extradition of Mr Bailey to France for questioning.

Mr Bailey vigorously opposed the warrant and, in a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2012, the Irish courts refused to extradite Mr Bailey.

Since then, Mr Bailey sued the Irish State for wrongful arrest.

He lost that action though it is currently under appeal to the Supreme Court.

The French probe under Magistrate Gachon concluded earlier this year and it was widely expected that it would recommend a Paris-based trial.

Mr Bailey has repeatedly predicted that the French would attempt to trial him in absentia.

Under France's Napoleonic law based system such trials in absentia are perfectly permissible and have taken place before.

Mr Bailey and his legal team were unavailable for comment today.

It is understood that Mr Bailey will again vigorously contest any French attempt to extradite him.

The Manchester native has complained that his life has been rendered "a nightmare" by the ongoing French legal process.

Because of the French extradition stance, he was unable to attend a family funeral in the UK two years ago amid fears the Paris police might demand that the UK police exercise the EAW.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News