Monday 17 June 2019

'We must be all together against violence' - Sophie Toscan du Plantier's son calls for Irish public to support murder trial

Sophie Toscan and her son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud in 1990
Sophie Toscan and her son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud in 1990
Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder...Undated handout photo of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, who was murdered in Ireland 14 years ago. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday April 24, 2010. Ian Bailey will appear at the High Court in Dublin today in connection with the death in west Cork of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, 39. See PA story IRISH France. Photo credit should read: Handout/PA Wire ...A
Ian Bailey. Photo: Collins
Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud
SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH: Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud

Ralph Riegel

THE son of murdered French woman, Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39), has publicly called on Ireland to support the Paris murder trial next week over his mother's killing as he said his family had firmly placed their trust in the people of west Cork.

"Sophie fought like a lioness against the most atrocious violence there is," Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud (37) said.

"The violence used by a monster that nothing stops - the one that struck her for no reason, for nothing."

"I still come back here every year because it is the only way for me to defy this violence and destroy it."

Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder...Undated handout photo of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, who was murdered in Ireland 14 years ago. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday April 24, 2010. Ian Bailey will appear at the High Court in Dublin today in connection with the death in west Cork of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, 39. See PA story IRISH France. Photo credit should read: Handout/PA Wire ...A
Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder...Undated handout photo of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, who was murdered in Ireland 14 years ago. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday April 24, 2010. Ian Bailey will appear at the High Court in Dublin today in connection with the death in west Cork of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, 39. See PA story IRISH France. Photo credit should read: Handout/PA Wire ...A

"For 20 years I have trusted you. Do not betray me. Do not betray yourselves," he said.

Mr Baudey-Vignaud issued the appeal as he spoke to the media in west Cork in advance of the Paris murder trial of British freelance journalist Ian Bailey (60).

Mr Bailey faces trial in absentia next week over the killing of the French mother of one in west Cork 22 years ago.

Ms du Plantier was found beaten to death by the side of a laneway leading to her isolated cottage at Toormore outside Schull at 10am on December 23 1996.

Ian Bailey. Photo: Collins
Ian Bailey. Photo: Collins

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

Mr Bailey has consistently protested his innocence and in 2012 successfully fought extradition to France.

He has maintained the Paris prosecution is "farcical" and "a show trial."

Mr Baudey-Vignaud, who attended Mass in Goleen with his uncle, Bertrand, urged

Ireland to support the French campaign to see justice done for his mother.

A number of Garda murder case witnesses have now received letters asking them to attend the Paris trial.

They cannot be compelled to attend - and Mr Bauday-Vignaud asked everyone in west Cork who can support the Paris prosecution to do so.

"This trial isn't just about my mother - it is the trial of the truth. I want to make an appeal to all the people here - anyone who has received requests from the magistrates in France, come and tell (your story). We must be all together against violence."

"If God is love and if this Church is his, let us pray for my mother to find peace and that God's righteousness may join that of men."

"This case is first and foremost about an innocent woman."

"This is a trial of a crime that you and I did no deserve whether it takes place here or in France."

"It is the trial of a crime that bears the mark of a country in which a woman, my mother, had such confidence that she opened her door to the person who murdered her (in December 1996)."

"She would not have done this in Paris."

"She opened her door here in Ireland because she was so confident that nothing bad would happen to her. And that confidence was the reason why she chose to come to this country."

Mr Bauday-Vignaud said that, since the December 1996 murder, his family have been trapped in a prison of undelivered justice.

But he said the entire west Cork community was trapped in the same prison.

"It was my last day of being a child," he said of the day he learned his mother had been murdered.

"I was eight years old the first time I cam here and I was 15 years old when my mother was brutally killed."

"It is time today to turn one of the saddest pages of your history - the darkest page of mine."

"These are just a few words to tell you that in France, in a week's time, our history is at stake."

"It is the story of my mother's death and the story of a woman who needed you so much to recharge her batteries."

"And the reason I stayed with you here is because she was always right to trust you. That is how I have always felt it."

"We must turn this sad page together because my mother, you and I, must refuse to see these hills sink into one of the worst tragedies and injustices."

"You know as well as I do who killed my mother."

"This land must find peace again. This land must end this crime which is neither a mystery nor a legend. My mother, Sophie, is not a ghost. She is the victim of human cruelty and violence which has no place here."

"But humans are sometimes capable of the worst."

"My mother defended herself from the worst up to her last breath to escape the savage and brutal violence....."

The father of two said the post mortem report on his mother's injuries made for shocking reading.

However, Mr Bailey claimed he has already been "sacrificed" by Ireland to placate the French over a crime which has gone unsolved for three decades.

He said he is convinced the French will convict him of murder in absentia - and immediately attempt a fresh extradition bid.

"As far as I can tell I have already been convicted," he said.

The murder trial before the Paris Assizes or criminal high court is scheduled to open on May 27.

The trial will take place before a panel of three judges and is expected to last at least a week.

Under France's Napoleonic Code, prosecutions can be taken against individuals who are not within the French jurisdiction and for alleged offences which occurred overseas.

Mr Bailey slated the prosecution as "farcical" and "a show trial" which is based on evidence either rejected or discredited in Ireland.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) ruled out any action against Mr Bailey more than a decade ago.

A mammoth French investigation into the murder was launched following the DPP's ruling.

French magistrates and police were given full access to the Garda murder file.

They conducted a battery of fresh forensic tests, exhumed Ms du Plantier's body in France for further analysis, re-interviewed all the Garda witnesses and compiled a lengthy report for Paris prosecutors.

The Paris team later received sanction from the French criminal court to mount a prosecution of Mr Bailey.

Mr Baudey-Vignaud has kept his mother's beloved holiday cottage at Toormore despite suggestions by some relatives that it should be sold.

He now holidays in west Cork three or four times a year with his wife, Aurelia, and two children.

His eldest daughter was named 'Sophie' in honour of her late grandmother.

Mr Baudey-Vignaud still keeps his mother's old duffle coat hanging on a hook by the back door.

"We chose to leave it here. But it (the house) is not a museum."

The father of two previously admitted that seeing Mr Bailey in west Cork for the first time was very difficult.

"He did not recognise me but it was like a freezing shower (for me). I had a bad evening and we flew back to Paris the next day," he said.

The young man said his family will never give up their campaign for justice for Sophie.

"It is like the train - when the train is late. Then the train arrives. So it is a matter of time."

The French family and their friends founded a support group, ASSOPH, which campaigned first for a French investigation and then backed Magistrate Patrick Gachon in his recommendation for a Paris prosecution of Mr Bailey.

"It (the prosecution) was very good news - it was news that we waited a very long time for," Mr Bauday-Vignaud said.

He also added that his family "love Ireland" because it is a place that his mother loved deeply.

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