Thursday 22 August 2019

'My client has been a prisoner since 2008,' claims lawyer

‘He has no assets’: Ian Bailey’s lawyer Frank Buttimer
‘He has no assets’: Ian Bailey’s lawyer Frank Buttimer

Áine Kenny

The French trial that convicted Ian Bailey of murder has been labelled a "farce" by his lawyer Frank Buttimer.

Mr Buttimer said he had anticipated the verdict.

"I am not surprised, I predicted this would be a rubber-­stamping exercise," he said, also branding it a "gross miscarriage of justice".

Mr Bailey was convicted in absentia of the murder of the French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

Mr Buttimer criticised authorities here for "allowing foreign police" to come to Ireland and "access our files".

He claimed it was a major blow to Ireland's judicial independence - "and we will have to look [as a nation] at how this could have happened in the first place".

Mr Buttimer said he expected the French authorities to press again for the arrest of his client, even though two previous extradition attempts had failed.

"They will seek the removal of the innocent Mr Bailey, to serve a sentence for a crime that he did not commit," Mr Buttimer told RTÉ radio.

Mr Buttimer pointed out that in 2012 the Irish Supreme Court decided that Mr Bailey could not be extradited for the crime "for which the French have now put him on trial, so-called trial, and found him guilty".

"By the way, regardless of that decision, they came back again in 2015 and in spite of that decision in the Supreme Court sought his removal again... They were told by the High Court in Ireland at that stage, 'you can't have him, the Supreme Court have decided you can't have him, get out of here'.

"They said 'fine, we'll go ahead and do him in his absence anyway'."

When asked whether this verdict would affect previous Irish legal rulings, Mr Buttimer said: "My belief is no, that the Supreme Court will… adhere to the decision made seven years ago."

He later added Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions had "long, long since" concluded that the evidence against Mr Bailey had been gathered in a "thoroughly flawed"manner.

The lawyer said Mr Bailey has always been in jeopardy of being arrested if he left the country, ever since the European Arrest warrant was applied for in 2008.

"It's always been the case that he's been a prisoner since 2008," he said.

"Had he gone back to his mother's funeral, for example, in and around 2011… he would have been arrested... because of the European Arrest Warrant, for his removal to France for some kind of criminal prosecution investigation then, would have caused that triggering effect."

Money

Mr Buttimer then claimed Mr Bailey "hadn't got a penny" and wouldn't have qualified for legal aid.

"Mr Bailey has no money, no assets, no means," he later said - adding his client had not been able to work "in any meaningful way" since 1996.

Mr Buttimer said this case was unprecedented across Europe. "It has been driven, of course, by the French because of who we are dealing with here... this is political, this is connection... this isn't just anybody else."

When challenged on this, he said: "I went out to France last week, I met an amount of people out there, I posed the question: 'Would this happen to any ordinary French citizen, would this be done?'

"The answer was no," he said.

Irish Independent

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