| 6.5°C Dublin

Sophie files now 'ready' for French authorities to probe

THE State is agreeing to hand over material including medical records, writings and drawings to French investigators in the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a judge heard yesterday.

Dublin District Court was told that the Minister for Justice was complying with a request to assist them in their probe into the killing of the 39-year-old, who was was beaten to death near her holiday home in Schull, in west Cork, in December 1996. Last week, former journalist Ian Bailey (54), who has always denied any involvement in the death of Ms Toscan du Plantier, won a two-year legal battle to stop his extradition to France.

However, authorities there still want to question him. Paris-based investigating magistrate Patrick Gachon was appointed in 2008 to run an independent inquiry into the murder.

Yesterday at Dublin District Court, Judge Ann Ryan heard that a request was being made on behalf of the French authorities to have certain material connected with the investigation handed over to them.

Assistance

Lawyers for the Minister for Justice told the judge that the French had asked for assistance under provisions contained in the Mutual Assistance Act 2008.

Under Section 63 of the legislation, confidential or sensitive evidence being received by the requesting country should not be heard in public, argued Roisin Lacey for the Minister of Justice.

Martin Giblin, counsel for Mr Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas, who were not present for the hearing, said he did not have instructions on that issue.

However, he asked for an adjournment, saying the application by the French authorities had first been made in 2010 and he wanted to find out why a delay had occurred.

He also said he wanted to make submissions that the proceedings were an "abuse of the processes" of the Irish courts.

Lawyers for the minister said Mr Bailey's legal team had been on notice of the proceedings and had ample opportunity to be prepared for them. Ms Lacey said the minister had agreed to the issue being dealt with and that it should proceed.

Judge Ryan refused to grant an adjournment, saying she was appointed in an appropriate fashion to receive the evidence and she was acting as a conduit.

Ms Lacey said the request from the French was appropriate and both jurisdictions should comply with their obligations.

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that unless Mr Bailey was to be put on trial for a crime committed in France, it could not allow his extradition.

Irish Independent