Sunday 22 April 2018

Gardai and French clash over access to Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder files

Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Ralph Riegel and  Dearbhail McDonald

THE Gardai and French authorities are at loggerheads over moves to restrict access to key documents in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder probe.

The Irish Independent has learned that the Paris-based magistrate leading a five-year investigation into the killing of the French mother of one now wants urgent access to "unexpected" telephone traffic and key internal garda documentation.

The French are demanding the issue be fast-tracked given that Magistrate Patrick Gachon is to complete his probe in the new year and make a recommendation about a possible Paris trial over the 39-year-old's killing in west Cork on December 23, 1996.

No one has ever been charged with the killing in Ireland.

Manchester-born freelance journalist Ian Bailey (56) was twice arrested by gardai for questioning in relation to the case but was released without charge on both occasions. He has consistently protested his innocence.

Last year, he successfully fought a French extradition request in the Supreme Court.

He has since predicted that the French will attempt to try him in absentia.

Mr Bailey is suing the State and Gardai for wrongful arrest and his legal team has sought High Court orders for access to all garda documents in relation to the case.


However, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan will seek High Court permission not to release certain case documents.

A garda spokesman said they will not be commenting on the issue as it is now before the High Court.

The internal report ordered by then Commissioner Noel Conroy was conducted by Assistant Commissioner Ray McAndrew and its 375 pages have never been published.

It is understood that the French have had sight of the McAndrew report since 2008.

The State indicated that new material has also come to light in relation to telephone traffic.

But the material was difficult to "unscramble" and it will take about four months to prepare.

Alain Spilliaert, the solicitor for Sophie's parents Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, said the revelations "seem to be very important news".

Mr Spilliaert said time was vital given that the Gachon report is nearing completion.

Irish Independent

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