French detectives to finish inquiry into Sophie's death
A team of French detectives will visit Ireland over the coming days to conclude a five-year probe into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39).
The visit will mark the conclusion of the exhaustive investigation by Paris-based magistrate Patrick Gachon and will, in the new year, see the French decide whether to proceed with a prosecution over the 1996 killing.
West Cork-based freelance journalist and law student Ian Bailey (56) has repeatedly predicted the French will attempt to try him in absentia over the killing.
Mr Bailey has repeatedly protested his innocence and claimed that "sinister attempts" were made to frame him for the crime.
In March 2012, the Supreme Court unanimously refused a French extradition application for Mr Bailey.
Alain Spilliaert, the solicitor for Sophie's parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, confirmed that the family now expected a trial process in France to be launched next year.
"Judge (Patrick) Gachon is willing to finish his investigation as soon as possible," Mr Spilliaert said.
His investigation included the exhumation of Sophie's body, a battery of new DNA and forensic tests as well as the re-interviewing in Ireland of the witnesses in the original probe.
Mr Gachon is expected to conclude his report by Christmas and make a recommendation about a French trial process in January. That will go to the Court d'Accusation before any trial in absentia before the Court d'Assizes in Paris.
It will be the third visit to Ireland by French detectives in four years.