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Sophie's family in Garda deal plea

THE family of Sophie Toscan du Plantier have insisted that Ireland must honour mutual police assistance agreements ahead of a visit to west Cork next month.

Georges (88) and Marguerite Bouniol (86) are to travel in May to the spot where their only daughter was murdered in December 1996, for their annual memorial tribute.

Their visit – which is dependent on the elderly couple's health – takes place as the family and French authorities have insisted that Ireland must continue to abide by mutual police assistance agreements which have allowed Paris-based Magistrate Patrick Gachon full access to the garda murder file.

Mr Gachon launched a French-based investigation into the killing five years ago and an elite detective unit, acting on his behalf, will travel from Paris to west Cork for concluding interviews within weeks.

However, the garda station telephone taping scandal has promoted calls for the mutual assistance agreement to be suspended.

A number of calls in relation to the investigation were taped from January 1997 including calls between gardai, calls between gardai and key witnesses and even calls between gardai and journalists.

EXTRADITION

British freelance journalist, Ian Bailey (56), who successfully fought a French extradition request in the Supreme Court three years ago, has maintained that the Paris authorities will attempt to try him in absentia. He has always protested his innocence.

Mr Bailey and his partner, Welsh artist, Jules Thomas, are currently suing the State for wrongful arrest. Mr Bailey's solicitor, Frank Buttimer, has now demanded that Ireland cease assisting the French investigation in light of the taping controversy.

"He (Mr Bailey) remains the subject of what I would consider to be an unlawful attempt to remove him from the jurisdiction by a foreign power. There are very, very serious questions to be answered," he said.

Mr Buttimer said the French detective team should be told by the Government not to travel to Ireland.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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