Thursday 14 December 2017

French judges have power to investigate deaths overseas

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

Q. Why do the French authorities want to extradite Ian Bailey?

A. Ian Bailey, an English journalist, is wanted by the French authorities in connection with the killing of filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a French citizen, in Cork in 1996.

He was twice arrested during the garda investigation but has never been charged. He has always denied any involvement in the killing.

Q. How can the French prosecute someone in France, for a murder that happened in Ireland?

A. Under France's criminal code, the French courts have jurisdiction to investigate, prosecute and put on trial an accused in relation to the murder of a French citizen, even where it occurs outside France.

Q. Can the Irish authorities seek the extradition, to Ireland, of someone suspected of killing an Irish citizen in another country?

A. No. Irish extraterritoriality laws do not permit the prosecution, in Ireland, of non-Irish citizens suspected of murdering someone outside of the State.

Irish citizens can, however, be prosecuted here for a murder committed outside of the country.

Q. The Director of Public Prosecutions in Ireland did not consider that any evidence gathered by gardai justified bringing any charges against Ian Bailey, so why has the High Court ruled he should be extradited to France?

A. The French authorities have stated in their warrant seeking Mr Bailey's extradition that "serious and convincing clues" were accumulated against Mr Bailey during the course of the garda investigation.

Investigating judge Patrick Gachon has indicated that there is sufficient evidence against Mr Bailey to warrant further criminal prosecution.

This does not necessarily mean that there is enough evidence to put Mr Bailey on trial and there has been no decision yet to try him.

Q. Why does the French prosecutor need Mr Bailey to travel to France?

A. Under French law, Mr Bailey is required to attend before the investigating judge for the prosecution to proceed to the next phase. He cannot be tried, if he is to be tried at all, until this phase of the prosecution procedures has been completed.

The High Court has ruled that even though the DPP in Ireland does not think there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Mr Bailey, that decision not to prosecute must yield to the view of the investigating judge in Paris that there is sufficient evidence for putting Mr Bailey into the next phase of the prosecution procedure.

Q. Could Ian Bailey ever be prosecuted in Ireland?

A. There have been several reviews of the file by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the latest in 2007, but the DPP has consistently refused to bring criminal charges.

Q. Who is Marie Farrell?

A. Marie Farrell made a statement to gardai that Ian Bailey was in the vicinity of the crime on the night Ms Du Plantier was killed, but she later retracted her statement.

The French authorities have Marie Farrell's statement as part of the garda file that was submitted to them.

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