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Monday 24 September 2018

High Court refuses to send Bailey to France over du Plantier death

Ian Bailey leaving Court in Dublin. Photo: Collins Courts
Ian Bailey leaving Court in Dublin. Photo: Collins Courts

The High Court has again refused to extradite former journalist Ian Bailey to France for questioning over the death of Sophie Tuscan du Plantier.

It has dismissed the application by the Minister for Justice as an "abuse of process".

Mr Bailey (60) of The Prairie, Liscaha, Schull, west Cork, denies any involvement in the death of the French filmmaker, who was found dead outside her holiday home in Schull in December 1996.

French authorities sought the surrender of Mr Bailey in 2010 but the application was refused by the Supreme Court in 2012.

The current extradition request was transmitted to Ireland last summer, seeking the surrender of Mr Bailey for alleged voluntary homicide.

French authorities have previously prosecuted people for crimes committed against French citizens outside France.

Mr Bailey, who claims gardai tried to frame him for the killing of Ms du Plantier, could be tried in France in his absence.

Halted

Refusing the surrender of Mr Bailey, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said yesterday that the Minister of Justice's request was "estopped", or halted, in light of the Supreme Court's 2012 judgment on identical relevant facts.

Mr Justice Hunt said he would also refuse surrender because, in the unique circumstances of this case, it was an "abuse of process" for five distinct reasons for the minister to seek surrender on the fresh warrant.

One of the reasons was the passage of time since Ms du Plantier's death.

Mr Justice Hunt said the minister and his successors were "disappointed litigants" and it appeared to him that the underlying theme of the minister's application was a "conviction that the majority of the Supreme Court were in error" in 2012.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Bailey said: "Obviously I'm pleased and delighted with the judgement of the judge today."

"[But] I would think the State would almost certainly appeal this decision, so it's not the end of the matter."

He said he did not know if the French would go ahead with a trial in his absence.

Asked if he had a message for Ms du Plantier's family, he said: "I'm very sympathetic to the family and I know that they believe for whatever reason that I had something to do with the death of their daughter.

"But I had nothing to do with it. I can't say much more than that."

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