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Du Plantier detectives fly in to quiz witnesses

FRENCH investigators and DNA experts were due to arrive in Ireland later today in advance of a trial next year over Sophie Toscan du Plantier's death.

A team of top Paris detectives and forensic scientists is expected to arrive in Cork this evening to interview more than 31 witnesses, who are regarded as crucial to the planned Paris trial.

The team has already requested copies of the diaries of former freelance journalist Ian Bailey so they can be referred to a psychologist.

Mr Bailey (54) -- who was twice arrested and released without charge by gardai in relation to the December 23 protested his innocence.

Forensic

Paris-based magistrate Patrick Gachon has ordered a team of four French detectives and three forensic scientists to Ireland as part of the final case preparations.

The forensic scientists -- who will focus their work in Dublin -- will gain access for the first time to evidence held in the garda murder file.

They are set to undertake a complex series of tests ranging from DNA, fibre and chemical analysis scans in a bid to uncover clues as to the identity of Sophie's killer.

The French detectives will reinterview the bulk of the witnesses who made sworn statements to gardai in 1996-98 as part of the original Irish murder probe.

Two senior gardai, Chief Supt Tom Hayes and Detective Inspector Joe Moore, will liaise with the French detective team about the interviews and statement reviews to be taken.

The French detectives will operate from Bantry and Bandon garda stations -- and they could be in Ireland for up to 10 days.

Mr Bailey is currently appealing a High Court extradition order to the Supreme Court after the French authorities issued a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for him in 2010.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule in November on the extradition appeal.