'French have found me guilty of killing Sophie already', claims Bailey
A journalist facing a murder trial in Paris over the brutal killing of a Frenchwoman in west Cork claims he has no chance of justice.
Ian Bailey (60) says the proceedings against him for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier 22 years ago are a show trial - and he has no intention of turning up to face charges.
"As far as I can tell I have already been convicted," he said.
He spoke out after the Herald learned that French prosecutors will act immediately to secure his extradition if he is convicted in his absence.
The Manchester-born freelance journalist and law graduate - who successfully fought a bid to extradite him in 2012 - fears he will be "sacrificed" by Ireland to placate the French.
He has protested his innocence since he was first accused in 1996.
The murder trial before the Paris Assizes or criminal high court is scheduled to open on May 27.
The trial will take place before a panel of three judges and is expected to last at least a week.
Under France's Napoleonic Code, prosecutions can be taken against individuals who are not within the French jurisdiction and for alleged offences which occurred overseas.
French prosecutors believe that the majority of 40 Irish witnesses will either agree to travel to Paris for the planned trial or co-operate by giving video-link evidence.
Most of them were interviewed as part of the original murder probe by gardai.
None can be compelled to attend.
The Herald has been told that the French authorities will not delay in seeking extradition if they secure a conviction in the trial.
Ireland will be formally asked to comply with its international judicial commitments and act on an existing European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued for Mr Bailey.
Mr Bailey has previously dismissed the French proceedings as "a show trial" and "farcical" while the authorities there say all proper procedures have been followed
The journalist, who lives in Schull, West Cork, and has been in Ireland for 27 years, said he is now facing into "a very grim, dark period of my life".
"It has been absolute hell," he said."The tragedy here is that the French will be convicting an innocent man - and the Irish (authorities) know it."
Mr Bailey is charged in Paris with the murder of Ms du Plantier (39) at her holiday home outside Toormore, Schull, on December 23, 1996.
The socialite and film executive was beaten to death on the laneway leading to her home after she apparently tried to flee from an intruder.
She had been due to fly back to France the following day.
Mr Bailey has previously claimed that the French seem intent on convicting a totally innocent man.
"I am greatly, greatly imperilled here," he said.
"I know that I had nothing to do with this and I am going to finish up a convicted murderer."
Mr Bailey - who is now retraining as a specialist wood artist - has maintained that "sinister attempts" were made to frame him for the brutal killing of the mother of one.