Sunday 25 February 2018

Sophie murder: Ian Bailey can’t be extradited to France

Ian Bailey. Photo: PA
Ian Bailey. Photo: PA
Ian Bailey
Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

IAN BAILEY, a one-time suspect in the murder of French film-maker Sophie Toscan Du Plantier, today won a two year legal battle against his extradition to France.

The Supreme Court in Dublin ruled Ian Bailey cannot be sent for questioning about the killing of Sophie Toscan du Plantier 15 years ago.

Ms Toscan du Plantier, (39), was found beaten to death outside her holiday home in Schull, west Cork, two days before Christmas 1996.

Mr Bailey, has always protested his innocence. He was arrested twice but never charged by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The five judges of the Supreme Court upheld his appeal and ruled that under Irish law the 54-year-old former journalist could only be extradited to face prosecution, and not for questioning.

An investigating magistrate, Patrick Gachon, was appointed in Paris to conduct an inquiry into Ms Toscan du Plantier's death after the DPP announced nobody would be charged in Ireland following a Garda investigation.

Under French law, authorities can investigate the suspicious death of a citizen abroad but they cannot compel witnesses to go to Paris for questioning.

Mr Bailey was arrested and questioned twice by gardai after Ms Toscan du Plantier's killing but never charged.

He cupped his ear to hear better as the judges delivered their verdicts one by one, and hugged his partner, Jules Thomas, when the unanimous ruling was delivered.

The Chief Justice, Susan Denham, said the appeal from a High Court decision arose in unique circumstances and raised unprecedented questions of law.

"It is clear from the facts of the case on the documents before the court that, while a decision has been made in France equivalent to charging the appellant, that decision does not incorporate a decision to try him for the murder of Mme Toscan du Plantier," she said.

Outside Dublin's Four Courts, Mr Bailey, who is taking legal action against the State for wrongful arrest, said he and Ms Thomas have been through hell.

"This has obviously been a very trying time," he said.

"I am obviously relieved that this particular part of the proceedings is over. There are many stages and matters still to be dealt with."

Mr Bailey said the last few years have been very hard.

"You wouldn't be able to believe the hell that we have been put went through by this awfulness," he added.

The State will now have to pay his hefty legal bill for the High and Supreme Court hearings.

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