Friday 23 March 2018

Sophie's family mark her 14th anniversary

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE family of slain French mother of one Sophie Toscan du Plantier will today mark the 14th anniversary of her murder with a special ceremony in west Cork.

Sophie's parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, and her aunt, Marie-Madeline Opalka, will lay a wreath of white lilies at the stone Celtic cross at Toormore outside Schull which marks the spot where their daughter's body was found on December 23, 1996. They will then attend a Mass in Sophie's memory in the nearby village of Goleen.

The ceremony takes place as the High Court reserved its judgment until January 21 next on an extradition hearing by the French authorities for former British journalist Ian Bailey, 53.

Last week, the High Court heard an application for Mr Bailey to be extradited to Paris for questioning over the "willful homicide and serious assault and battery" of the French film executive and socialite in 1996. The hearing was attended by French Home Affairs attaché Eric Battesti.

Mr Bailey has consistently maintained his innocence and claimed that "sinister" attempts have been made to frame him for the crime.

His legal team opposed the French application after insisting there was "no evidence" to support it -- and accused the Parisian authorities of playing a game of "cat and mouse" with the Manchester-born former reporter.

The High Court extradition case will prove a landmark in Irish law with no one ever having been extradited before to another country for questioning in relation to an alleged offence that occurred in this jurisdiction.

Mr Bailey was, the court was told, deeply traumatised by the extradition attempt which came despite a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions here not to take any proceedings against him.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Sophie's mother said their decision to visit Ireland had nothing to do with legal events in Dublin -- but was all about remembering their daughter.

"We are happy to come back this year because we owe it to our daughter. She suffered so much when she tried to escape and then she was hunted down. She suffered so much that we want to suffer as well," she said.

Sophie's parents were accompanied by a member of the Sophie Toscan du Plantier Truth Association, a campaign group established by her friends to press for judicial action in France over the killing.

Sophie had been scheduled to fly back from west Cork to France on the afternoon of December 23, 1996, to spend Christmas with her family.

However, she was apparently attacked in her Toormore holiday home late on December 22 or in the early hours of December 23. She died from horrific injuries in an attack described by one garda source as "frenzied".

No one has ever been charged in relation to her killing despite one of the biggest murder investigations in garda history.

Sunday Independent

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