A French court has rejected a bid by British freelance journalist Ian Bailey to halt his trial in Paris for the killing of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
The court, the three-judge Chambre d'Instruction, heard detailed arguments from Mr Bailey's legal team last year as part of his appeal against the decision to charge him over the mother-of-one's death in west Cork on December 23, 1996.
The charge followed a lengthy investigation by Paris-based magistrate Patrick Gachon.
The investigation involved the exhumation of Ms du Plantier's body, a series of forensic tests and a team of French detectives re-interviewing all the witnesses in the original garda murder investigation.
French officials ordered the investigation after the Irish authorities acknowledged that a prosecution here was extremely unlikely.
The French failed in a 2012 bid to have Mr Bailey (60) extradited after the application was rejected by the Supreme Court.
A new European arrest warrant was issued for Mr Bailey by the French in 2016.
Yesterday, the Paris court rejected his appeal against being charged in France and returned him for trial for voluntary homicide.
The court said it found "sufficient grounds" for him to face a prosecution in France. The decision has effectively cleared the way for Paris prosecutors to try Mr Bailey in absentia.
Under French law, a person can be tried for homicide even if they are outside the French jurisdiction and the alleged incident happened overseas.
The only requirement is that the deceased person must be a French national.
However, Mr Bailey can still appeal to a higher court.
French officials indicated that they now expected a challenge to be lodged with the higher court, the Cour de Cass-ation.
Mr Bailey declined to comment yesterday on the basis of legal advice.
The former grammar schoolboy has always protested his innocence.
Mr Bailey insists he had no involvement in Ms du Plantier's death and further claims that "sinister attempts" were made to frame him.
Ms du Plantier (39) was found battered to death at the foot of a laneway leading to her isolated holiday cottage at Toormore, outside Schull.