herald

Thursday 17 August 2017

Bailey to be tried in his absence in Paris over 1996 Sophie murder

Ian Bailey is accused of killing Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Ian Bailey is accused of killing Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Journalist Ian Bailey is facing trial in France later this year over the death of film producer Sophie Toscan de Planter.

Mr Bailey (59) has been indicted by the French authorities for the murder of mother-of-one Ms Toscan du Plantier.

Formal court papers were served on Mr Bailey at his home in Schull, west Cork, last Thursday by gardai acting on behalf of the Paris authorities.

Outrageous

He now faces two charges in France, one of which is murder.

Mr Bailey and his legal team have repeatedly predicted that the French will attempt to stage "a show trial" in Paris.

His solicitor, Frank Buttimer, described the French legal move as "outrageous" and "unbelievable".

Mr Bailey will be tried in absentia, which is allowed under French law, after the Irish authorities refused to extradite him to France almost five years ago.

The Supreme Court rejected an extradition bid lodged under a European Arrest Warrant.

The French confirmation that a murder trial will proceed is understood to be the first formal communication Mr Bailey has had with Paris prosecutors.

Last month, members of Ms Toscan du Plantier's family attended a special memorial mass in west Cork to mark the 20th anniversary of her killing.

Ms Toscan du Plantier's son and brother vowed that their fight for justice will never stop.

Now the French authorities will consider allowing elderly or infirm Irish witnesses to offer evidence in the trial via video link.

Prosecutors want the Paris Criminal Court trial, expected later this year, to involve as many witnesses as possible from the original garda investigation into the murder on December 23, 1996.

Almost 40 witnesses will be invited to offer evidence at the trial, including Ms Toscan du Plantier's neighbours in Toormore, retired garda officers and local people from Goleen and Schull.

It will also include a battery of forensic and technical evidence.

The trial was signalled after French authorities sanctioned a prosecution following an eight-year investigation by magistrates Patrick Gachon and Nathalie Turquey.

Pressure

The French investigation was launched following pressure from Ms Toscan du Plantier's family after the Irish authorities admitted no prosecution was ever likely to take place here.

Ms Toscan du Plantier (39) was found battered to death on a lane leading to her holiday home at Toormore.

She had been scheduled to fly to France later that day to spend Christmas with her family.

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

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