Thursday 22 March 2018

Family of slain Sophie to seek backing from Europe to sue Ireland

THE family of slain French mother-of-one Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39) are to seek the support of European prosecutors and civil rights agencies in an action against Ireland over the controversial handling of the murder investigation.

The revelation came as the self-styled Sophie Toscan du Plantier Truth Association (STDPTA) launched a scathing attack on Ireland's handling of the investigation into the 1996 killing.

No-one has ever been charged with the killing of Sophie, whose battered body was discovered on a laneway leading to her isolated holiday home at Tooremore outside Schull in west Cork at 10am on December 23, 1996.

There is now little likelihood of a prosecution in Ireland -- and, as a result, the French launched a Paris-based probe in 2008.

The STDPTA -- set up to support Sophie's parents Georges and Marguerite Bouniol -- last night warned that it was now prepared to take "appropriate action" following the refusal of the Supreme Court to endorse a French extradition request.

The Supreme Court unanimously refused to sanction the extradition of Manchester-born former freelance journalist Ian Bailey (54) to Paris.

Mr Bailey has consistently protested his innocence -- and claimed that efforts were made to frame him for the crime.

Mr Bailey -- and his partner, Welsh artist, Jules Thomas -- are both now suing the State alleging wrongful arrest by the gardai.

A Garda Ombudsman Commission (GOC) probe is also underway following a formal complaint from Mr Bailey over the alleged actions of specific officers.

Last night, the STDPTA warned Ireland that "(we) will not remain idle regarding this situation". "The association, having studied, in depth, the consequences of the Irish Supreme Court's judgment and the conditions of its development will support the family to take appropriate action against the Irish authorities in conjunction with European bodies, whose legislation has obviously been trodden on by Ireland," an association spokesman confirmed.


"The association expresses its anger and interrogations -- anger that after 15 years the incredibly brutal murder of Sophie remains unexplained and her killer is still at large.

"This is the first evidence of the carelessness of the Irish justice system in this case and its contempt for the victims and their families."

The association also claimed that "barriers were erected against every attempt to provide for the emergence of truth since the case began".

The STDPTA also challenged Ireland to explain why it took two years for the French extradition request to be processed fully -- and why key documents only came to light three months before the Supreme Court ruling. "The association support actions undertaken by the family at judicial and media levels," the spokesman added.

The French investigation under Magistrate Patrick Gachon remains ongoing -- and a decision on what action, if any, is to be taken next will be confirmed by early autumn.

Mr Bailey has predicted that the French will now attempt to try him in absentia.


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