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Sunday 26 January 2020

Magistrate will press ahead with case despite court ruling

Ian Bailey (centre) and his partner Jules Thomas and solicitor Frank Buttimer (right) speak to the media outside the Supreme Court in Dublin after he won his challenge against his extradition to France. Photo: PA
Ian Bailey (centre) and his partner Jules Thomas and solicitor Frank Buttimer (right) speak to the media outside the Supreme Court in Dublin after he won his challenge against his extradition to France. Photo: PA
Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Ralph Riegel and Dearbhail McDonald

THE French authorities are expected to press ahead with the case against Ian Bailey despite the refusal of the Supreme Court here to extradite him.

Paris-based magistrate Patrick Gachon now has the power to recommend Mr Bailey's trial in his absence. In cases of this sort in France -- where the defendant is absent -- any second extradition bid is only attempted if there is a conviction.

Mr Gachon has been investigating the 1996 killing of Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39) for the past four years and has had full access to the garda murder file.

He has ordered the exhumation of Ms Toscan du Plantier's body for fresh forensic tests, he has interviewed the senior gardai involved in the original murder probe and, last October, he sent a team of French detectives to Ireland.

A decision on the next phase of his probe will be taken only after a team of French detectives returns to Ireland and concludes a final series of interviews with potential witnesses.

Frustrated

Solicitor for Ms Toscan du Plantier's family, Alain Spilliaert, has admitted that they were "shocked and frustrated" by the Supreme Court ruling.

"It is a very big shock for us, it is a step backwards because we were very hopeful given that the High Court had supported the extradition last year," he told the Irish Independent.

"We will not give up, we will keep going. The position would now be that there would be a trial in absentia," he said.

Ms Toscan du Plantier's brother, Bertrand Bouniol, said that the family will never give up their search for the truth.

"We are waiting for justice and we are waiting for the truth on what happened. That is the only thing that we have in our mind," he said.

The French-issued European Arrest Warrant (EAW) -- which was lodged in April 2010 -- remains in place. It means that if Mr Bailey travels outside Ireland, the French could launch a renewed extradition bid.

Mr Bailey's legal team is now to endeavour to have the EAW set aside.

"It is not to be forgotten that the EAW remains in existence in France and, for that reason, further steps may have to be taken by Mr Bailey to address that concern," Mr Bailey's solicitor, Frank Buttimer, said.

Irish Independent

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