Monday 11 December 2017

French judge to pursue case against Bailey

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A FRENCH magistrate investigating the death of filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier is pushing ahead with a case against Ian Bailey -- even though he can't be extradited.

The Irish Independent has learnt French detectives are due back in west Cork this September to conclude interviews as part of the probe.

Paris-based magistrate Patrick Gachon has indicated he will have the four-year investigation wrapped up by November. And he will rule in January on whether Mr Bailey, a self-confessed suspect, should be tried in France in his absence.

Sources close to Mr Gachon said a trial could take place in mid to late 2013.

The Supreme Court refused in March to extradite Mr Bailey to France on foot of a European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

And even if he was found guilty in his absence at a French trial, he would not be extradited because of the Supreme Court ruling.

But the French will now launch a campaign in Ireland for legislative change in light of the Supreme Court ruling, to seek a firm extradition guarantee for all individuals who may be convicted of an offence in a fellow EU member state.

Mr Bailey -- who is now suing the State for wrongful arrest -- has consistently maintained his innocence over the 1996 death of the mother of one.

However, he has predicted that the French will attempt to try him in absentia.

Under French law, an individual can be tried in France for an offence irrespective of where it occurred in the world once it involved a French citizen.

Sources close to Mr Gachon said that the investigation, which was launched four years ago and included the exhumation of Ms Toscan du Plantier's body in France, is now in its final phase.

The French team are said to have been "very pleased" with the results of witness interviews conducted in Ireland last October and hope to finalise information by Paris-based detectives next September.

Alain Spilliaert, the Paris lawyer for Ms Toscan du Plantier's family, said the Gachon probe was now reaching a critical phase.

"We had a meeting with the magistrate and he intends to terminate his work by the end of the year," he told the Irish Independent.

"He will then make a decision on the outcome of the investigation early in the New Year," he added.

Last night, Mr Bailey's solicitor, Frank Buttimer, hit out at the developments. "I find the French attitude towards the Irish judicial system to be beyond disrespectful," he said.

Irish Independent

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